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A Simple Guide to Baby Supplies

Overwhelmed with lists of what you should buy for your new baby? Here's what you really need.

Baby Clothes

Newborns need only a few baby couture basics: four to six one-piece gowns (called onesies), two to three one-piece, footed sleepers, four to six undershirts, one blanket sleeper (according to the season), two to three pairs of socks or booties, a few bibs, a hat with a brim, and a sweater or outerwear for cold weather.

As for linens, you should have on hand three to four crib sheets, two waterproof crib pads, and three to six receiving blankets for swaddling your baby.

Although your newborn won't be ready for a bath until the umbilical stump falls off, prepare by getting a small bathtub. You'll also need four to six baby washcloths, two to four hooded bath towels, mild soap, and baby shampoo. 

Feeding Supplies

If you plan to breastfeed, consider buying nursing bras and bringing them to wear at the hospital. A breast pump is useful, too; it can stimulate more milk if you pump right after a feeding, according to Danielson. "If breast milk production is a little bit slow, which can happen with first babies especially, a breast pump is sometimes a good way to help deal with that," he says. Pumping breast milk also allows Dad to help feed the baby during the night, he adds.

If you go the formula route, ask your pediatrician for a recommendation. Be sure to have several baby bottles and nipples on hand. Stock up on about six small 4-ounce bottles for your newborn. When your infant reaches 4 to 6 months, you'll want to switch to larger 8-ounce bottles.

If you choose plastic bottles, look for certified BPA-free models, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises. While most U.S. manufacturers stopped using BPA in baby bottles in 2009, it's still smart to stay away from clear plastic baby bottles with the recycling number "7" and the imprinted letters "PC," according to the AAP. They might contain BPA, a controversial chemical researchers are studying for possible effects on human health. 

But you can still go with plastic. Just look for opaque plastic bottles made of polyethylene or polypropylene, which contain no BPA. Disposable bottle liners also tend to be BPA-free. You can buy glass bottles, although they're heavier and break more easily. 

Diapers for Newborns

For disposable diapers, buy newborn sizes, as well as the next size larger to prepare for your growing baby. For the first few weeks, you'll need about 10 to 11 disposable diapers per day, so buy accordingly. For cloth diapers, have about 48 on hand, as well as three to five diaper covers and a diaper pail.  Don't forget diaper wipes and a diaper bag, too. 

Strollers and Baby Carriers

Pick a sturdy, conventional stroller with brakes that lock the wheels firmly and a seat belt and crotch strap that are attached securely to the frame. Steer away from umbrella strollers. They're light and handy for toddlers, but they're not a good choice for babies who can't sit up yet.

A front or back carrier is a good way to keep your baby snuggled close to you as you move about.

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