Welcoming a baby into this world starts with making sure they are healthy. It also means being prepared for when your baby comes home. This list should help you get all you need to take care of your baby during the early months.
- Cradle, bassinet, or crib: If you choose to have your baby sleep in your room at night, a cradle or bassinet is a nice option for the first few months. When the baby gets bigger, you will need to get a crib. When choosing a crib, make sure it meets the latest safety standards and that there are no more than 2 3/8 inches between the slats. If you are short on space, some pack-n-plays come outfitted with a changing table, bassinet and play area all in one.
- Crib mattress: Unfortunately, most cribs do not come with mattresses so you will need to purchase one. Pick out a mattress that has good back support, is not too soft, and meets all the fire-retardant regulations. Make sure that it fits securely in the crib and that there is no space around the mattress that the baby can get a limb or head stuck.
- Dresser: You will need a few drawers to store baby's clothes and toys.
- Changing area: This can be on top of a dresser or a separate changing table. It is a good idea to purchase a pad to lay baby on top of when changing. You'll be changing a lot of diapers, so it's a good idea to have a comfortable surface at a good height that won't hurt your back. Never take your hand or eyes off baby when changing them, especially if your changing area is off the ground; babies can roll off the table at the blink of an eye. Most changing tables have a strap with a buckle to make sure baby doesn’t roll off. It is always a good idea to use this.
- Rocking chair or glider: Although not essential, it's nice to have when feeding baby. Pick out one that has padded arms for extra support and comfort. A footrest adds additional comfort, especially if breastfeeding.
- Tape or CD player, Bluetooth-enabled speakers: Lullaby music is a nice way to lull baby into a peaceful sleep or soothe baby when they are upset.
- 1 quilted mattress pad
- At least 2 fitted crib sheets (smaller sizes are sold for cradles, bassinets, or port-a-cribs)
- 2-4 waterproof mattress pads or waterproof sheets
When making the crib, you have a few options. You may choose to use a waterproof mattress pad on the bottom and put the fitted crib sheet on top of that, or you may want to look into purchasing a waterproof pad/sheet (called sheet-savers) that goes on top of the fitted crib sheet. These can be found in most baby stores and make cleaning up accidents easier since all you have to do is change the top sheet of the crib. If you go this route, be sure to get one that snaps or ties on to the crib railings (you do not want the ones that you just place on top of the fitted sheet -- these can increase the risk of suffocation).
If you choose to use the waterproof sheet savers you really only need 1 fitted crib sheet and 2 to 4 waterproof sheet savers. The fitted crib sheet should require few changes since the waterproof sheet savers on top will keep it dry. You do, however, want to get multiple waterproof sheet savers since you will need to change those regularly.
Note: Babies should not have pillows or fluffy comforters in their crib. They also should not sleep with stuffed animals or toys. They could cause your baby to suffocate since they are not strong enough to roll over or push them away.
Diaper Time: What You Need for the Changing Table
- Diapers (plan on using 70-90 per week for the first six weeks, then 50 per week)
- Disposable diaper wipes (alcohol-free)
- Diaper rash ointment or cream (such as Desitin or A&D or Boudreaux’s)
- Gauze to protect area of circumcision if you elected one for your infant son
- Petroleum jelly to apply to the gauze for area of circumcision (so the baby's penis doesn't stick to the diaper)
- Pad for baby to lie on during changing
- Changing pad covers
- Diaper pail to dispose of soiled diapers
Layette: Baby's First Clothes
- 6 undershirts that snap on the bottom or tie on the side, commonly called "onesies" (3 in three-month size and 3 in six-month size)
- 3 to 4 infant gowns with elastic bottoms. These make for easy diaper changes. All you have to do is pull the gown up over the belly to change the diaper and then pull it back down when finished. There is no stumbling around trying to snap the gown back together, which is especially nice when it's 3 a.m. and all you want to do is get baby back to sleep so that you can get back to sleep.
- 6 sleepers/stretch suits (3 newborn to three-month size and 3 in six-month size). These are nice to put baby in during the day, but are not essential items. When buying these, make sure you get the kind that zip up the front. These are easier to get baby in and out.
- 3 to 4 pairs of booties or socks with stretch elastic band at cuff
- 3 to 4 receiving blankets
- 1 sweater and hat
Bathing Baby: What You Need
- Baby bathtub (sloping with foam pad or flat with molded sponge insert)
- 4 terry cloth bath towels (hooded towels are OK, but not necessary)
- 4 to 6 washcloths
- Tearless shampoo
- Baby soap. Many brands make baby shampoo and soap all in one.
- Brush and comb
- Rounded-tip nail scissors or clippers. Baby's nails grow quickly and can scratch their face.
- Bulb syringe nasal aspirator. These are used to suction excess mucus from baby's nose and mouth (the one you receive in the hospital is a keeper!).
You may want to check with your baby's doctor before the first bath. Most doctors recommend that you wait until the umbilical cord has fallen off and the circumcision site has healed before giving your baby a tub bath. In the meantime sponge baths work great.
Washing Baby's Laundry
Although it is not necessary, you may want to wash all clothing and bedding in a detergent safe for babies. Some popular brands are All Free, Clear, Dreft, Ivory Snow, and Tide Pure Clean. These products have been tested for their safe use for all skin types, especially infants.
Wash all infant clothing, bedding, and towels, prior to first use.
To remove tough stains (such as spit-up), spot-treat the item with one of these detergents or soak prior to washing.
- 12 nipples and covers
- 1 bottle and nipple brush for cleaning
- Dishwasher basket for bottles and nipples (optional, but makes for easy cleaning)
- Infant formula and measuring cup (if you are not breastfeeding). Use the brand recommended by your child's doctor.
- 12 burp cloths
- 6 bibs
- 12 bottles. Even if you are breastfeeding, you should have bottles to use for pumped breast milk.
- Breast pump, manual or electric
- Pumping supplies such as sterilization bags and storage bottles
The Diaper Bag
When buying a diaper bag, pick one that has lots of pockets and places to store individual items. Also, keep in mind that your diaper bag often becomes your purse, so find one large enough to keep your wallet, keys, glasses, cell phone, and other items you need for yourself.
It's a good idea to keep this bag packed with the following items at all times so if you need to leave the house in a hurry -- especially if you have to take baby to the doctor unexpectedly -- you'll be ready:
- 5 to 6 diapers
- Disposable wipes
- Diaper rash cream or ointment
- Pad to lie your baby on top of when changing the diaper
- Plastic bags to wrap dirty diapers in until you can find a trash can to throw them out
- 2 sets of clothes for baby: Infant onesies, socks, hat, baby outfit
- 2 clean bottles, bottle water, and powdered formula (if bottle feeding)
- Burp cloth
- Pacifier (if using)
- Baby toy or rattle
- Baby Tylenol
- Sunscreen (although you should keep your infant in the shade.)
Other Baby Essentials
- Infant car seat: This can also be used as a baby carrier. You can find stroller frames that the infant car seat can snap into so that you don't have to carry the car seat, which can get heavy, at all times. If you decide to get a stroller that your infant car seat can snap in to, make sure you get one that fits your infant carrier. You can also use a car seat base in the car so that you can easily and safely snap in the car seat.
- Newborn-size pacifier: Some lactation consultants recommend not using a pacifier if you are breastfeeding to prevent nipple confusion in your baby.
- Breast pump for breastfeeding moms: Breast pumps allow you to pump milk so that someone else can feed your baby. This is important if you need to leave your baby for a significant amount of time (for example, if you are working). Breast pumps also come in handy when your breasts get engorged and baby is too sleepy to help you out. With a breast pump, you can pump some of the milk out and save it for when baby is ready to eat. You can use a manual or electric pump (which some insurance companies will cover).
The Baby Medicine Cabinet
Discuss the use of over-the-counter medications or treatments with your doctor.
- Thermometer: There are many types available. Some doctors prefer that you use a rectal thermometer to get the most accurate temperature. A digital, plastic thermometer that you can place under your baby's armpit may be easy for you to use for the first six months, but a rectal temperature is the most accurate in the first 3 months of life. Ear thermometers can be used after age 3 months.
- Pain reliever/fever reducer medicine: Do not use aspirin! Acetaminophen is the only pain reliever/fever reducer approved for for the first 6 months of life. Ask your pediatrician about the proper dose based on your baby’s weight.
- Teething rings to soothe teething gums.
- Small gauze squares to clean wounds.
- Hydrogen peroxide to clean wounds.
- Wound cream such as Bacitracin Antibiotic or Johnson & Johnson First Aid Cream. Do not use Neosporin on babies under age 6 months. It contains an ingredient, neomycin, which can cause sensitivity in infants.
- Small bandages.
- Cool mist vaporizer. Good for when baby has a cold.
- Pedialyte or Ricelyte to be used as directed by your child's pediatrician for fluid replacement during diarrhea or vomiting.
- Infant sunscreen. If your baby is younger than 6 months, keep them out of the sun as much as possible. But no matter how old they are, apply a baby-friendly sunscreen if they'll be exposed to sunlight.
Keep your baby in the shade as much as you can. Their skin is thinner and more sensitive. Cover them up with clothes and a hat, limit their time in the sun (especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun is strongest), don’t let them get overheated, and get them out of the sun right away if they show any signs of sunburn or dehydration, including fussiness, redness, and excessive crying.
Baby Gear: Nonessentials (But Nice to Have)
- Baby monitor
- Baby book: Essential if you want to record your baby's firsts.
- Infant seat: A "bouncy" seat or swing are great! It gives you a safe place to put baby while you do things for yourself.
- High chair: You will use it when baby is 4 to 6 months old.
- Baby sling or pouch: These come in handy when you need to have your hands free to get things done around the house, but still carry your baby.
- A mobile for over the crib and/or changing table