Want to know what to buy before the baby is born? Here’s a checklist of the top baby things to buy before birth.
Every new mom has wondered what she really needs for the baby, the items we should buy now before the big day comes.
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 didn’t want to spend more than I needed to, so I was particular about what I added to my registry or bought at the store.
So, what made the cut?
After three boys and talking to several moms, these are the items I recommend for a new baby to make those first few months easier. I also 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 giving birth. As one parent said about the article:
“This was so helpful. Cannot thank you enough for taking the time to jot down all of this.” -Jes
Table of Contents
1. Crib and/or bassinet
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Buy any baby gear you 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 comes home, since assembling this can take a while. Plus, he needs a safe space to sleep once he’s home.
You can also keep a bassinet next to your bed for middle-of-the-night feedings. Some babies also sleep better because of its small space.
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2. Crib mattress
Invest in a good crib mattress, since your baby will likely use it for years, including when he transitions to a toddler bed. Tip: Get at least two fitted crib sheets to cycle through should one get soiled.
3. Darkening curtains
Help your baby fall—and stay—asleep easier with darkening curtains. These can 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 my baby to get used to only falling asleep with motion. 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 him to sleep. It frees up your arms and gives him a chance to nap.
5. Baby monitor
Many parents have found a baby monitor useful, especially if they like to check on the baby without potentially waking him up (darn those creaking doors!). A monitor also makes it easier to nap when the baby naps, so you don’t feel compelled to run in each time he 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 can check on him even if you’re not in the next room.
Swaddles can help your baby feel nice and snug, just like he 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, 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.
8. Sleep sack
As functional as blankets may be, one thing you can’t use them for is to help the baby sleep for safety reasons. Instead, use a sleep sack to keep him warm and safe as he sleeps.
9. Changing table or 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 top of the dresser as a changing table.
And yes, you can always change him on the floor with a changing pad, but doing that too often without the option to stand might break your back (trust me, I know!).
Find a dresser with cubby spaces—these do well for quick items to grab like diapers and wipes.
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 might also need to get at least two changing pad covers that you can wash 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.
Want to save on diapers? Buy cloth diapers! This might be a bigger investment up front but can save you loads in the long run.
Keep bags of wipes in several locations, from the changing table 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.
Or, like diapers, you can save money on wipes (and cut down on trash) by buying reusable ones!
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 the changing table, even if it was only in the next room. A “mini station” in the living room made for quick and convenient changes.
14. Diaper cream
The cream acts as a protective wall between moisture (water, sweat, pee) and your baby’s skin. Apply rash cream after each change, and definitely when he 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 became a must for keeping odors out from day one.
Even with a breastfed baby, a diaper pail becomes necessary once he starts eating solids.
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 baby items to your registry, but do it anyway. Some people like to go in together 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 can 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
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 wrap helped make that happen.
Ask your baby’s pediatrician which medicines she recommends. Personally, I had these on hand:
- Gas drops
- Gripe water
- Saline spray
- Vitamin D drops (for breastfed babies)
- Over-the-counter pain medicine
20. Baby toiletries and household supplies
Babies don’t need much with toiletries, but they do need special items just for them. A few of them include:
- Baby shampoo and body wash (tip: get one with a pump for easy dispensing during bath time)
- Nail clippers
- Brush and comb
- Baby-safe laundry detergent
- Hand sanitizer (for you)
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—10 pieces can give you that plus a few extras for messes. Here are a few ideas:
- Onesies (short- or long-sleeved, depending on the season)
- Pants or shorts
- Footed pajamas (get the zip-up kind, not the buttoned ones)
- Jacket or sweater for cool weather
Keep the tags on and don’t take the clothes out of their packaging yet. You might find that he’s too small (or too big) for the clothes you got. Until you know his size, it’s hard to tell which clothes you’ll ultimately use most. By keeping the tags on most of your items, you can still exchange them for a better fit.
Watch the weather, too. Even though my baby was born in the fall, the weather was brutally hot. So much so that many of the warm clothes weren’t helpful. If you’re unsure, stick to layering: a onesie underneath a zipped pajama underneath a sleep sack.
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 burp cloths can 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 (get about 20 of these).
23. Breast pump and pump parts
My first pump was a small single pump that I had to spend twice the time pumping compared to what I could’ve done with a double pump.
Later, I upgraded to a hospital-grade Medela double breast pump (renting one from a hospital or local lactation group can often fit within most budgets!). I halved my breastfeeding time and made sure I was pumping well.
An efficient pump can also help you increase your milk supply, especially if you pump in addition to your nursing sessions (and not as a replacement).
Don’t forget storage bags, too. In the early days, I was pumping enough milk into the bottles and storing them in the fridge for the next day. I figured I wasn’t making enough to freeze.
But storage bags are more convenient to take to work since they use less space than bottles. They also encouraged me to add pump sessions so that I’d have a freezer stash for when I needed a break or to have extra.
Tip: Check with your insurance provider to see if they can cover the cost of a breast pump.
24. Hands-free pumping bra
I was adamant that I didn’t need a hands-free pumping bra, especially when I figured I could prop the pump parts with nursing tops and bras. Sure, they would wobble, but I’d just hold them steady or readjust them as needed.
But after a friend recommended the Simple Wishes pumping bra, I gave it a try. Maybe then I could pump more efficiently or at least not risk damaging my nursing tops and bras. I sure wished I had used this from the start. The pumping bra left my hands free and I pumped more ounces than when I wasn’t using it.
25. Milk bottles and nipples
Whether pumping or formula-feeding, you’ll likely 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 his nap time by “tugging” on his pacifier as he starts to stir but isn’t completely awake. This can trigger him to suck more and hopefully sleep a second 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 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 I could comfortably practice breastfeeding from day one.
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
If you’re breastfeeding, you might 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.
Nursing pads will also come handy. One thing I didn’t realize when I started breastfeeding was how much I’d leak. Not exactly a pretty sight to see that your top is soaked with breast milk.
That’s why nursing pads are awesome—they provide an extra layer between your body and clothes to prevent leakage. I especially like the reusable cloth breast pads that you can toss in the washing machine and wear again.
Tip: If you find yourself with sore, cracked, and bleeding nipples, nipple cream or lanolin is the way to go. You can apply it before you nurse to prevent discomfort, as well as after to protect your nipples even further. Earth Mama and Lansinoh are great products.
Bottle-fed babies might especially need cloth bibs to prevent milk from dribbling onto the baby’s clothes. But even nursing babies can 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 likely send you home with samples of formula. You can also grab a few different brands from the 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, avoid washing the baby’s umbilical cord in order to allow it to heal. That means using a bathtub that allows him to lie on a “hammock” instead of being submerged in the water. Later, once the umbilical cord has healed, you can then bathe him in water.
33. Wash cloths
Use washcloths to bathe your baby with soap. The gentle textures can 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 can also avoid irritating or rubbing his skin.
Get more tips:
- Essential Things You Might Be Missing On Your Second Baby Registry
- 9 Signs You’re in the First Trimester
- Household Items to Stock Up Before Baby Arrives
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your printable checklist below—at no cost to you: