Top 10 Things Baby Needs

Need a checklist of essential items for your newborn’s basic care? Take a look at the top 10 things baby needs, perfect for first time moms.

Top 10 Things Baby NeedsWhether “first time” or “it’s been a while,” many of us have felt clueless about what we’ll actually need for the baby. There comes a time during those 40 weeks when we realize that we’ll be buying a few things soon. But with all the shopping checklists, how do we know which ones are true must have items?

It doesn’t help that “must haves” are subjective. Some truly are must haves for the baby’s health and well-being, while others make our lives much easier. To top it off, we’ve all heard of the products that weren’t worth it in the end. No one wants to get the wrong things, only to regret it in the end.

You might be working on your baby registry and finding it hard to know what the actual necessities are. And the closer you get to the baby’s arrival, the more anxious and indecisive you feel about what you should buy.

Top 10 things baby needs

I can certainly relate. As a new mom, I wanted to make sure my baby had what he needed. I was willing to spend on good-quality, long-lasting items. I knew that having the right baby gear could make a difference, even if it wasn’t an absolute necessity.

At the same time, I was expecting right in the middle of a recession, so I wasn’t exactly keen on spending just to spend. I’d ask myself if an item would truly make life much easier, or if I could do without it.

Years later, I can tell you my top 10 things baby needs for those first few months. Baby essentials for the first 3 months, as well as lifesavers that can help you so much during those trying, sleep-deprived moments.

Take a look at this checklist, perfect for first time moms:

Baby Essentials for the First 3 Months

1. Car seat

The infant car seat sits at the top of the list because, at the end of the day, the hospital won’t let you take the baby home without one.

Of course, there are other alternatives, from home births to riding public transportation. But the most common scenario is taking the baby home in a car seat.

Besides getting a car seat, you’ll want to make sure you’ve installed it correctly. Reach out to the highway patrol or hire a car seat specialist to install and show you how to secure the baby in place.

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2. Crib or bassinet

Once you take the baby home, he’ll need a place to safely sleep alone, like a crib or bassinet.

I had both (and would even use the portable crib, too). If my baby didn’t want to sleep in the crib, I’d try the bassinet, and vice versa.

With your baby so small, you can get away with just the bassinet for now, in case you want to stagger your purchases. But at around three or four months, he might outgrow it, making the crib the next one to use. And of course, you’ll need a crib mattress and fitted sheets as well.

baby sleeping in a bassinet

3. Formula or breastfeeding supplies

Long before your baby comes home, he already needed a way to eat. For some, this means formula, which many hospitals will provide. For others, having breastfeeding supplies will make the experience more successful.

For breastfeeding moms, the first item to have is a nursing pillow. I didn’t have one with my eldest, so at the hospital, the lactation consultant and I had to make do with whatever pillows we had around. A pillow makes nursing so much easier to manage.

And if you’re interested in increasing your milk supply (or plan to be away from the baby), a breast pump makes that possible. I rented one to help build my supply. Later, I used it many times when I was at work.

Now, this isn’t a necessity, but hands-free pumping bras can make multiple pumping sessions at work easier. I wish I had mine from day one.

I also used formula for my twins. One of them was so small that he needed supplementing even at the hospital. So, we chose ready-made formula in liquid form, before switching to the powdered version.

If you’re using formula or pumping milk, you’ll want to have bottles on hand to feed. And regardless of which feeding method you choose, burp cloths will protect you from spit ups.

4. Diapers and wipes

We all know babies need to get changed often throughout the day (around 13 times in the newborn days). Diapers and wipes are a must for the next few years.

Start small, getting one box of newborn diapers before moving up to size one. You might also want to experiment with different brands before committing to buying a bunch all at once. And those with a “pee indicator” strip on the front come in handy as well.

I used disposable diapers with all my kids, but now wish I had considered reusable cloth diapers more thoroughly. We didn’t have our own washing machine at that point, but I later realized that cloth diaper services could’ve been an option.

While more expensive up front, reusable diapers end up being more cost-effective in the end (plus more eco-friendly).

For wipes, you can get away with soaking cotton pads in water, which is actually easier on baby’s skin. But down the line, regular baby wipes are the more common ones to use.

And ave a diaper bag designated for baby’s items. Make sure it has an insulated pocket to store breast milk or formula. Having a separate compartment for diapers also helps, as this keeps them away from other items like clothes, pacifiers, or toys.

5. Changing table or pad

Speaking of diapers, you’ll need a place to change the baby. For many, this means a changing table (which can also double as drawers or diaper storage).

Technically, you can forgo the table and simply use a changing pad. If so, I recommend keeping the pad on the floor instead of the bed. Constant diaper changes on the bed took a number on my back.

And even if you do have a changing table, I suggest having a portable changing pad as well (many diaper bags come with one). Having a second changing pad means you can change diapers in more than one location. And of course, a portable pad is a must when you’re out and about.

6. Bathtub

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We’ve all heard stories of bathing baby in the sink, but let’s just say that a baby bathtub is a must.

In the newborn stage, you’ll want the smallest tub that also comes with a “hammock.” This allows you to bathe the baby without submerging his body completely in water. (His belly button needs to stay dry until the dried skin falls off.)

With a hammock in the baby bathtub, you can bathe most of his body while keeping his belly button area dry.

7. Clothes

Perhaps the biggest conundrum we all face is how to clothe our babies. We all know they need clothes, but we don’t always know how many, which sizes, and what style to get. Throw in the current season of the year your baby is born, and you can see why there’s no one clear answer.

That said, there are a few basics to build on. Onesies are a good place to start, particularly short-sleeved ones. You can then layer long sleeved wraps, sweaters, or pajamas on top.

Then, you’ll need a way to keep his feet warm. For many, this means socks and booties, but you can also choose footed pajamas or pants, along with sleep sacks that keep his feet covered.

Other than those, you can layer as needed. Depending on the season, he might need pants or shorts, sweaters or jackets, or long-sleeved pajamas.

As far as how many, aim for 10 of each item that he would wear daily. He may not need 10 jackets, but he’ll likely need 10 onesies.

How Many Clothes to Buy Before Baby Is Born

8. Stroller or baby carrier

While you can always carry the baby around when you’re out and about, this isn’t always feasible or comfortable. That’s when a stroller, or even a baby carrier, is necessary.

When I had twins, this was even more of a no-brainer, since there was no way I could carry two babies (or even two car seats) on my own. With a stroller, I was able to set them down in a safe place and free up my arms.

Nearly every newborn car seat comes with a stroller attachment, making travel even easier. There’s no need to unbuckle your baby from the car seat and into the stroller. Instead, you’d simply unsnap the car seat from the base in the car and into the stroller.

If not a stroller, then a baby carrier also allows you to be out and about. This is especially useful if you’re walking out of your house (instead of using the car).

9. Toiletries

Toiletries can include a whole slew of items, but since we’re talking must-haves, here are the absolute essentials:

  • Nail clippers. You’ll need a way to clip those tiny baby nails.
  • Thermometer. Should he get sick, you’ll need a thermometer to monitor fevers.
  • Diaper rash cream. This helps get rid of diaper rashes quicker and prevents them from happening as often in the first place.
  • Nasal suction. If he has mucus in his nose, you’ll need to suction it out, since he can’t blow his nose himself.
  • Baby shampoo and body wash. Many baby soaps can be used both for the body and the hair.

10. Swaddle

Like many new parents, I was desperate for sleep and dreaded the multiple times my baby woke up. While he didn’t sleep a full night (12 hours) until he was six months old, one thing that did stretch his sleep was wrapping him in a swaddle.

A swaddle is simply a way keep your baby’s arms contained until he outgrows the Moro reflex. Feeling snug also mimics the environment he was used to when he was in the womb. And why are both important? They help extend his sleep much more than if he were left without a swaddle.

The simplest ones are thin swaddling blankets (which can also double as a burp cloth or car seat cover!). For more convenience, you can get pre-made swaddles that attach or zip quickly.


A few reminders

With so many must have checklists, it’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed about doing the right thing. That’s why I want to remind you that there’s no one “right” way to prepare for the baby. For instance it’s okay to…

  • Exchange an unopened item for another at the store. If you realized that you don’t actually need a particular item, you can always return or exchange it for something you do. Maybe it’s the crib bumpers you realized weren’t all that safe, or the baby mirror that distracts you while driving. You can always get something else in lieu of the ones you could do without.
  • Accept what you have. Even if you realize that you should’ve gotten something else, it’s also okay to work with what you have and make the most of it. Maybe you realized that a mobile doesn’t really put your baby to sleep. That’s okay—he might use it more as entertainment.
  • Buy as you go. You’re never locked in to the items you have when you give birth. Don’t forget that you can always get an item later once you realize how helpful it would be. This might be the hands-free pumping bra that saves you loads of time, or the various bottles you get until you find the right one.


Figuring out what you actually need for the baby can feel overwhelming to any new mom. Hopefully you now have a better idea of the essentials you need.

A car seat tops the list, as you’ll need this to take the baby home in the car, while a crib or bassinet will provide a place for him to sleep. Feeding supplies—from formula to a breast pump—make sure that he has a way to eat. He’ll also need diapers and wipes for frequent changes.

A changing pad or table gives you a clean place to change those diapers. Get an infant bathtub to bathe him, plus onesies, socks, and other basic clothes to layer. A stroller or baby carrier allows you to take him out and about without having to carry him.

Stock your home with baby toiletries like nail clippers and a thermometer. Use a swaddle to stretch his sleep as long as possible. And finally, get a diaper bag to store items when you’re on the go.

Now you know the top 10 things baby needs, from “need to have” to “nice to have.”

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Pregnancy To Do List

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