Want to know what to buy before the baby is born? Here’s a checklist of the top baby things to buy before birth (includes pictures!).
Every first-time mom has wondered what she really needs for the baby, the items we should buy now before the baby comes.
You don’t want to buy anything you’ll barely use once the baby arrives… but you also want to avoid not having an item once you finally get home (solo store runs with a crying baby are no fun).
Perhaps you’ve already crossed off most items on your registry list, but can’t help but feel like you’re forgetting something. Or maybe you’re simply wondering what things been-there, done-that moms wished they had but didn’t think to buy beforehand.
Even once you have an idea of what to buy, you might not know just how many of them to grab to be prepared. And if you’re like many moms, feeling prepared and knowing all you can helps ease the panic of knowing you’re about to welcome your baby soon.
Must-have baby things to buy before birth
I can certainly relate. I’m a “planner,” so having everything ready to go helped me feel better prepared for welcoming my first son. At the same time, I also don’t like to spend more than I need to, so I was particular about what I added to my registry or bought at the store.
After three boys, and talking to several moms about the essential baby things to buy before birth, below is a comprehensive list of just that. These are the items that go above the bare essentials to make those newborn months easier. But they’re also not so over-the-top that you’ll end up returning them to the store.
And finally, I not only list the items, but explain why they’re essential, as well as a few tips to keep in mind. Take a look at these baby things to buy before birth, and make sure to cross them off your list:
1. Crib and/or bassinet
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Buy any baby gear you’ll need to install, assemble, or practice using well ahead of your baby’s arrival, including a crib. This isn’t something you want to put off until after the baby gets home, since assembling this can take a while. Plus, your baby needs a safe space to sleep once he’s home.
Tip: A bassinet is a convenient sleeping space you can keep next to your bed for middle-of-the-night feedings.
2. Crib mattress
Invest in a good crib mattress, since your baby will likely use it for years, even through toddlerhood. Tip: Get a waterproof mattress for the inevitable messes, as well as at least two fitted crib sheets to cycle through.
3. Darkening curtains
Help your baby fall—and stay—asleep easier with darkening curtains. These will help block out the sunlight that might prevent him from sleeping longer.
I still shake my head, wondering how I ever thought I could get away without a swing. And I get it—at first, I didn’t want to establish “bad” sleep habits. But I later learned that while we can set good habits whenever we can, sometimes we do whatever it takes to get the baby to sleep.
And a swing is a fantastic way to do just that. Because when you have a newborn, you need more than just one way to get your baby to sleep. A swing allows you to free up your arms and give your baby a chance to nap.
5. Baby Monitor
Many moms have found it indispensable, especially if they like to check on the baby without potentially waking him up (darn those creaking doors!). A baby monitor also makes it easier to nap when the baby naps, so you don’t feel compelled to run in each time the baby so much as whimpers.
And if you have a big house, a baby monitor allows you to do other things farther away from the baby. You’ll be able to check on him even if you’re not in the next room.
Swaddles will help your baby feel nice and snug, just like he was used to when he was in your womb. I’m a fan of pre-made swaddles that you simply velcro or zip in place, as opposed to creating one from a blanket.
7. Receiving blankets
Even with a pre-made swaddle, you’ll still want to have a few different receiving blankets on hand. You can use them as a nursing cover, to drape over the stroller, as extra padding to lay your baby on the floor, and so much more.
Tip: Get both light- and heavy-weight blankets for different purposes, grabbing at least two of each (for a total of four).
8. Sleep sack
As functional as baby blankets may be, one thing you can’t use them for is to help the baby sleep. Instead, use a sleep sack to keep your baby warm and safe as he sleeps.
9. Changing table and dresser
Instead of getting a separate changing table and dresser, get one that combines both! Place the baby’s clothes in the drawers, and use the surface of the dresser as a changing table. Bonus points if you can find a dresser with cubby spaces, too—these do well for quick items to grab like diapers and wipes.
And yes, you can always change the baby on the floor with a changing pad, but doing that too often without the option to stand will break your back (trust me, I know!).
10. Changing pad and covers
You’ll need a changing pad to place on top of the changing table. Make sure you can permanently attach the pad to the dresser so it doesn’t slide around, and that the pad has safety straps for the baby.
You’ll also need to get at least two changing pad covers that you can wash regularly or after messy changes.
Even though you’ll always need diapers, don’t stock multiple boxes just yet. You might find that your baby needs a certain size, outgrows one quickly, or doesn’t take to a particular brand. Instead, stick to one newborn box for now.
That said, if you run into any diaper sales, go ahead and stockpile—just make sure to tape the receipt to the boxes in case you need to return or exchange them.
Keep bags of wipes in several locations, from your changing station to the diaper bag to your car. Like diapers, avoid stocking up on one particular brand just yet, until you know your baby isn’t sensitive to it.
Many hospitals send patients home with samples of wipes, or you can simply get different brands from the store and see which ones you like.
13. Portable Changing Pads
Many diaper bags come with portable changing pads, but you might want to get another one for your home. And yes, this is on top of the permanent changing table.
You see, even in my tiny one-bedroom apartment, having a second “changing area” was so helpful. It meant not having to carry a poop-smeared baby all the way to our bedroom, even if it was just 20 feet away. A changing pad “mini station” in the living room made for quick and convenient changes.
14. Diaper cream
Applying diaper cream not only soothes diaper rashes, it also prevents it from happening in the first place. The cream acts as a protective wall between moisture (water, sweat, pee) and your baby’s skin. You’ll want to apply diaper cream after each change, and definitely when your baby has a rash.
15. Diaper pail
Since my eldest was exclusively breastfed, we got away with using a “regular” trash can for soiled diapers. Breastfed babies’ poop doesn’t smell like formula-fed or solid-eating babies’ poop does. But since my twins were both breast- and formula-fed, getting a diaper pail was a must for keeping odors out.
16. Car seat and stroller system
Get a stroller that allows you to place an infant car seat easily into it. Once your baby outgrows the car seat, he can then sit directly into the stroller upright.
Tip: It might feel strange to add big-ticket items to your registry, but do it anyway. Some people like to go in on a group gift, and essentials like a car seat and stroller would be perfect for them.
17. Diaper bag
You’ll need a diaper bag for all your outings, from simple errands to overnight stays. The diaper bag will hold not just diapers and wipes, but other essentials like a change of clothes, pacifiers, medicines, and other must-haves.
Tip: Get a diaper bag with insulated storage for bottles, as well as one that comes with a travel-size changing pad.
18. Baby wrap or carrier
I loved having a baby wrap, especially in the newborn stage, because that was yet another way for my babies to fall asleep. The more options I had, the more chances they could fall asleep, and keeping them snug in a baby wrap helped make that happen.
You’ll want to ask your baby’s pediatrician which medicines she recommends. Personally, I had these on hand:
- Mylicon Infants’ Gas Relief
- Mommy’s Bliss Gripe Water
- Little Remedies Saline Spray
- Ddrops Vitamin D (for breastfed babies)
- Infants’ Tylenol
- Simplife Baby Forehead Thermometer
- NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator
20. Baby toiletries and household supplies
Babies don’t need much with toiletries, but they do need special items just for them. A few baby things to buy before birth include:
- Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash (tip: get one with a pump for easy dispensing during bath time)
- American Red Cross Nail Clippers
- Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Lotion
- Hand sanitizer (for you)
- Summer Infant Brush and Comb
- Dreft Stage 1 Laundry Detergent
21. Practical baby clothes
Unless you have a special event planned, ditch the fancy baby outfits and stick to practical clothes. Tip: Aim for at least a week’s worth of clothes, but ideally 10 pieces will give you that plus a few extras for messes. Here are a few baby things to buy before birth:
- Onesies (short- or long-sleeved, depending on the season)
- Footed pajamas (get the zip-up kind, not the buttoned ones)
- Jacket or sweater for cool weather
22. Burp cloths
Burp cloths are a must not just during feeding sessions but throughout the day. Your baby might have spit-up and drool long after he’s already eaten, and these burp cloths will help protect your own clothes.
Tip: Ditch the cute, small burp cloths and instead grab cloth diapers. These are larger and more absorbent than typical burp cloths. Grab about 20 of these.
23. Breast pump and pump parts
Even if you decide to nurse exclusively, buying or renting a pump gives you an option to hand the baby to someone else to feed. Pumping, especially in the first few days, also helps stimulate production and increase milk supply.
Tip: Check with your insurance provider to see if they’ll cover the cost of a breast pump.
24. Hands-free pumping bra
I wish I had bought a hands-free pumping bra from the start. Instead, I tried to do without by hanging the pump parts from my nursing tops and bras. Getting one of these was a huge turning point in helping me produce more milk, while keeping my hands free.
25. Milk bottles and nipples
Whether pumping or formula-feeding, you’ll need milk bottles to feed your baby. Stick to smaller 4-ounce bottles for now, as well as low-flow nipples.
Tip: Experiment with both bottle and nipple brands and varieties. Some babies take to certain sizes, materials, and brands. Like diapers and wipes, don’t stock up just yet on bottles and nipples until you can see whether your baby takes to them.
Many babies like to suck on pacifiers as a way to self-soothe, and it helps you avoid feeding just as a way to calm your baby down. Tip: Extend your baby’s nap time by “tugging” on his pacifier before he starts to stir. This will trigger him to suck some more, and hopefully sleep a second sleep cycle.
27. Bottle drying rack
Keep bottle parts separate from regular dishes by dedicating a drying rack for them. Some bottles come with an assortment of parts that could easily get lost with other dishes.
Tip: Get a large drying rack if you plan to pump as well. You’ll need a place to set both bottle and pump parts to dry.
28. Nursing pillow
I made the mistake of assuming I wouldn’t need a nursing pillow for my baby. Boy, was I wrong! I wish I had even brought one to the hospital, so that comfortably practicing how to breastfeed could’ve started from Day One.
Tip: Infant pillows are also convenient ways to set your baby down at an incline when you need your hands (for instance, to re-strap a nursing top).
29. Nursing tops and bras
Breastfeeding moms will need nursing tops and bras for convenient feeding sessions. Grab several varieties of each, as you’ll likely live in these for the first few months. You can easily layer other clothes over nursing tops, and nursing bras allow you to wear “regular” cloths while still having easy access to nurse.
Bottle-fed babies will especially need cloth bibs to prevent milk from dribbling onto the baby’s clothes. But even nursing babies will benefit from bibs as a quick way to wipe spit-up and drool.
Tip: Don’t worry about bibs for food just yet—you can grab those months down the line when your baby is ready to try solids.
Most hospitals will send you home with samples of formula. You can also grab a few different brands from the grocery store and see which ones your baby likes. Once you know he takes to it easily, then you can buy in bulk or subscribe to save regularly.
32. Baby bathtub
In the first few days, you’ll want to avoid washing the baby’s umbilical cord in order to allow it to heal. That means using a baby bathtub that allows your baby to lie on a “hammock” instead of being submerged in the water. Later, once the umbilical cord has healed, you can then graduate to bathing him in water.
33. Wash cloths
Use baby wash cloths to bathe your baby with soap. The gentle textures will make sure his skin won’t get irritated.
34. Bath towels
Most baby bath towels come with a hood to keep your baby’s head dry and warm after a bath. The gentle texture will also avoid irritating or rubbing his skin.
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Get more tips:
- Essential Things You Might Be Missing On Your Second Baby Registry
- Must-Have Breastfeeding Supplies You Need to Have
- 8 Tips to Save for Maternity Leave
- 9 Signs You’re in the First Trimester
- Household Items to Stock Up Before Baby Arrives
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