If you are wondering “What do I need for a newborn?” then you are in the right place!
Having a newborn baby is stressful enough without having to worry about what to buy in preparation for his or her arrival.
When I was about to have my first baby, I was SO CONFUSED about what was truly a baby necessity and what I should bother putting on my registry.
It was so tough being a first time mom and the first of my close circle of friends to get pregnant! I really didn’t know where to get advice.
I wish an experienced mom would have taken me by the hand and walked me through the list of newborn must haves and then explained what things weren’t truly necessary, but would have been “nice to have.”
This is my gift to all the expectant moms out there. As a mom of 3 (my kids are currently 14, 11, and 9 years old), I feel like I am pretty much well versed on the topic of most needed stuff to get in preparation of baby’s arrival.
If you’re having a baby in 2022 (or reading this to prepare for a 2023 arrival), you are in the right place!
What Newborn Must Haves Should I Get?
When I had my first baby, I used one of those comprehensive “what to buy for baby” checklists that they give you when you create your registry. I put everything on it and got most of it at my showers.
However, I quickly found I actually needed way less than I thought. And the more babies I had, the less I needed each time. You just get really good at stocking up on the necessities and forget the rest! You will likely find the same happening to you.
If you are having your FIRST baby, I wanted to give you a very realistic (not minimalistic) view of stuff you should get before the baby arrives. I hope you find it helpful!
Essential List of Things to Buy or Put on Your Registry
Although I could have sat down and written out a truly exhaustive list of every single thing you could ever need to have to care for a newborn, I don’t think that’s the most helpful thing I can do.
So I dug deep and narrowed down the list of absolute must have baby items to only the things that you will REGRET not getting if you don’t purchase them beforehand.
These items are key – as in, you will regret it if you forget them! Now that I think of it, perhaps I also need to write a post about the “most forgotten” baby items?! I’ll put that on the list.
Okay….back to what all you need to get before your due date –
I would personally put all of these on a baby registry so your friends and family can buy them for you. I find that most people LOVE getting practical things for new moms and if you have a lot of people buying for you, you need to put more items than you think on your registry.
In hindsight, I should have registered for more practical basics – essential things like diapers and wipes instead of the cool gadgets that I didn’t really end up using.
It’s so practical to register for things that would cost you money when the baby comes, and people love getting things like this for you!
We didn’t register for enough things and had to go back twice to add items because people started getting us multiples of stuff we already had because they had no clue what we wanted!
That makes no sense – I know – but it is honestly what happened when people ran out of things to buy.
Don’t let your well-intentioned baby shower guests left to guess at what you want. Put everything you need AND want on the registry, and you’ll be so surprised at what people get for you!
New Baby Checklist: Newborn Must Haves for an Amazing Experience
I put this list of newborn baby must haves together and ran it by several of my mom friends to make sure they agreed. I feel really confident in this list of main things you need for your 1st baby.
This list consists of infant care items that, if they are not purchased before the baby arrives, you might have to run out at a very inconvenient time to purchase when you finally realize they need or want them. (We had to do this after our first baby was born – not the most convenient situation to be in! LOL)
I tried to make this a “top 10” post but, honestly, caring for a baby DOES require more than ten items, so I expanded my recommendations and stopped when it felt right.
Keep in mind that these are the items I recommend for your nursery. You really don’t have to take much in your hospital bag because the hospital provides so much.
You’ll want to bring going home outfits for you and your newborn, but you won’t necessarily need to bring things like diapers or wipes.
Unless things have changed since we had our babies, the hospital provides necessities like that to get thru your hospital stay. Double check that, though, because your hospital could be different.
You may be wondering what baby registry I recommend as well. When I had my babies, all we could register for was Walmart and Babies-R-Us because most of our baby shower guests didn’t have access to a Target or Amazon.
Now that Amazon is practically accessible by everyone now, the Amazon Baby Registry is my top choice for new mamas. Second to that is Target because of their simple return policy.
I like having both because I promise there will be many little old ladies who attend your baby shower you WILL NOT buy their gifts online. Trust me on this one. And you don’t want them getting you some really random things that you’ll never use.
So start an Amazon Registry now and then also create a Target one in the store (which is super fun because you get to walk around with the handheld scanner and add things to your registry!)
You can split the items listed in this post between the two as you see fit. Just make sure not to overlap unless it’s on something highly necessary that you can never get enough of (like diapers, wipes, or baby shampoo).
The best part about these two registries are the freebies you get for creating them. Amazon sends you a Welcome Box filled with valuable items ones you add items to your registry and meet a minimum purchase amount.
And both companies send you a coupon to use after the baby arrives so you can get anything remaining on your registry at a discount! So don’t be shy about adding things to them because you can get a coupon to use later.
Must Have Baby Items: What to Buy Before the Little One Arrives
Here’s the thing –
A newborn’s material needs are few. This newborn must haves list includes the basics needed to help baby sleep and stay warm, fed, and clothed. That’s it! (Don’t worry – I’ll include some more “fun” items at the end that I really enjoyed so you can have a well-rounded registry! 😊
Assuming you’ve started your registry (I like Amazon’s Baby Registry), let’s get to adding these items to it!
Baby Registry Essentials: Hygiene / Feeding
This is the most essential thing a baby needs. At least fifty newborn diapers is a good starting point unless the baby is projected to be over ten pounds at birth, in which case you’ll want to buy size one diapers from the start.
It’s not unheard of for a breastfed newborn to go through ten diapers a day, so a stash of fifty diapers may not even last a week, but would be a good start. Once your baby stops sizing up in diapers so quickly, I recommend putting diapers on Amazon Subscribe & Save so you don’t have to even leave your house to be well stocked.
I had these particular Pampers Cruisers diapers set to deliver to my front door once a month until we no longer needed them. Once you no longer need them delivered, you can stop deliveries right away.
Experienced mom tip – Every baby is shaped differently, and diapers have different fits just like clothing does. We had babies with wide little booties, so we found that the Pamper’s brand worked well for us. Very few explosive poop accidents out the top or side because the diapers covered their bottoms very well. Huggies diapers looked like thongs on our babies. I am not kidding you! Huggies didn’t cover their bottoms very well – always shifting from one side to the other – and we had to constantly clean up messes. But my friends with little-bottomed babies loved Huggies. So if your baby’s bottom is smaller, Huggies might be better for you. This is one of those things you can’t predict ahead of time, so just stock up a little bit ahead of time and make it work until you have a chance to try out the different styles on your baby.
These are invaluable and one of those must-have items that you can never have enough of! We tried all different kinds and I have to say my favorite was Pampers brand sensitive wipes. They are high quality and go on sale quite often.
You can even buy them in bulk on Amazon and have them delivered to your door. I actually had these exact ones on auto-deliver every month for as long as we needed them. Wipes are just about the last thing you’ll want to run out of!
Not all babies develop diaper rash, but the treatment is nice to have on hand. This is on the list of things you’ll need a constant supply of when the baby is still in diapers. I especially loved this brand >> Boudreaux’s Butt Paste
Experienced mom tip: the quicker you can change your baby’s diaper after a poop, the less diaper rash cream you’ll need. The poop contact with skin is highly irritating and the cause of most diaper rashes, in my experience.
These are helpful for when baby makes a mess. Get at least 6 of them. 10 is not too many because you’ll need some clean while the others are in the wash (and you might not always be able to keep on top of the laundry so having extras is nice).
5) Several breastmilk storage bottles and/or bags
Even a breastfeeding mom will find this handy if the baby will be fed pumped breast milk. If you’re gonna feed your baby the milk within a day or so, you’ll need at least several extra bottles to store the milk in the fridge. If you’re saving it for later on, you’ll need freezer storage bags like these >>
6) Rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs
These are for cleaning a newborn’s umbilical cord stump. This is one of those newborn care tasks that I had no clue about until we were in the hospital the first time!
7) First Aid Kit
This is top on the list of things to buy before your baby’s born! We didn’t actually think of this for our first baby until after birth right when we needed it…I don’t know why! And then we had to rush to the store and get one!
This is the kind of first aid kit we had for our baby and it served us well.
The contents may vary, but standard items should include baby nail clippers, baby acetaminophen, a medicine dropper, bulb nose sucker, and a thermometer. You can buy nicer versions of these things if you’d like, but a good all purpose first aid kit for baby is good to have no matter what.
I wrote a post about even more baby safety items in this post >> List of Baby Proofing Essentials
8) Baby Formula
Skip this item if exclusively breastfeeding. I breastfed about 90% until 6-9 months. My husband fed the babies for one early morning feeding per day so I could get a good stretch of sleep. We loved these two formulas for our babies: Enfamil and Earth’s Best
If your baby takes a pacifier (two out of three of mine did…the other one just didn’t care for it), you’ll need lots of them. Having several on hand is nice, especially in case one is dropped or lost when baby needs it most.
After three babies, I found that these soft pacifiers were my favorite ones hands down. So soft, safe (i.e. too big to swallow and no small parts that can come detached), and easy to clean << very important!
Hint: Get the pack of 6 because if your baby likes pacifiers, you will need many extras! After they’re past the newborn stage, they throw those suckers out of the stroller, onto the floor, etc. and you’ll be glad you have clean extra ones in your diaper bag! 🙂
10) Breast Pump
This is a very personal choice and which one you get depends on how you plan on pumping. I mostly breastfed and was on the go a lot, so I decided to keep it simple and go with a manual handheld pump like this one.
It was so easy to use and didn’t require any special tubes or anything. I also liked it because I just used the Avent bottles that attached directly to it so it was super easy to just fill up a bottle, put a lid on it, and throw it in the fridge for later. If you go this route, you’ll need the pump and the matching bottles.
If you’re a working mom or like to be more efficient and don’t plan on being out and about a lot, then a more advanced pump like this one is amazing.
Baby’s Bath Time Essentials
Advice varies on whether babies need lotion. I found that occasionally my babies would get dry skin and I liked being able to take care of that. So we used a gentle lotion like this one from Aveeno >>
12) Wash cloths
You’ll need at least a few of these. A simple pack like this one is great.
13) Baby Shampoo
A tearless shampoo is a must. There are so many brands to consider, depending on how natural you like to keep your beauty products. You don’t need a ton because babies literally need a tiny drop of shampoo for each wash. We liked this creamy one from Aveeno for bath time.
14) Baby bath tub
A sink or an actual big-people tub will work once the baby is a little older, but both can be a little awkward to use in the beginning. In my mind, a baby sized bath tub is non-negotiable on the list of newborn must haves.
Newborn Sleeping Essentials
15) Crib and Mattress
Get a crib that matches your bedroom decor and don’t forget to invest in a good mattress. We had this all natural baby crib mattress for our youngest two and loved it. It felt good to put them to sleep on a natural surface free from any potentially harmful chemicals or substances.
16) Two or more sets of bed linens
Trust me on this one! You need extras because babies are messy (poop explosions, for instance) and you’ll undoubtedly need one for use while the other is being washed.
These are nice for keeping a newborn baby bundled and feeling secure. I thank Jesus for the wonderful nurse who taught me how to swaddle my first baby properly. Babies LOVE being wrapped tightly, just like they were in the womb.
If your baby doesn’t respond well to being completely wrapped up, my best trick was to leave out ONE arm so they feel like they’re not wrapped. Hahaha so tricky! But it really works.
Newborn Baby Clothing Necessities
18) Newborn and 0-3 month clothes with snap buttons on the bottom
Onesies or gowns that offer easy access to diapers for changing are good choices. These are the kind I’m talking about. You’ll need lots of these, so go ahead and get a handful to have on hand in every size. They make the cutest ones in different styles these days. Here are my favorite ones for girls and my favorite ones for boys.
19) Socks / Hat
If it’s cold, you’ll definitely need socks like these for your little one. Babies born in the summer won’t really need them very much. One little pack of socks is plenty. And for a hat, you can get some really cute options like this one for summertime or this one for winter. This is a truly personal preference so I’ll leave this one up to you!
What You Need for Traveling with a Newborn
20) Car seat
One of the most important items a parent will purchase. This should be purchased new, as a used car seat cannot be trusted to withstand a car crash. Many hospitals won’t discharge mother and baby until they have checked the car seat installation.
For all three of our babies, we went with the Chicco car seat and stroller combo. It was a workhorse!! We even comparison shopped each time before settling on the same exact one each time. So I can confidently say you don’t even need to stress about this choice – get a Chicco and you’ll love it for the safety ratings and ease of use plus the great price point.
I recommend installing your car seat in your vehicle at least 3-4 weeks before your due date so you’re ready at any time for the hospital trip.
An economical option is to purchase a car seat / stroller combo like the Chicco one above. There are so many colors to choose from. We had this jogging stroller and this lightweight stroller at one point, but I also like this stroller style a lot.
If you want a great option to use when shopping, I highly recommend also purchasing this stroller frame that can be used with all kinds of car seats, including the Chicco car seat above.
You can see the stroller base + car seat in action here >> We rolled around with this combo ALL. THE. TIME!
22) Diaper bag (bonus!)
It should have ample room to hold diapers, wipes, creams, a burp cloth, extra clothing for baby, and possibly changing pads. It’s also nice if the diaper bag has an insulated section to keep prepared bottles cold until needed.
So there you have it! Twenty one of the top must buy baby items.
I hope you are able to add them to your registry (I recommend the Amazon registry online and the Target registry in-store).
By the time you have your second baby YOU will be a pro and give out advice like this to first-time moms. Good luck with everything and let me know if you have any questions below!
Newborn Baby Things That Aren’t Must Haves But Are Really Nice to Have
The new baby checklist above isn’t exhaustive….there are many things you might like to get for your nursery that aren’t truly essential and that’s ok!
Here are a few conveniences that aren’t must haves for a newborn baby, but I loved them because they just made my life easier as a new mom:
- Wipes warmer – great for babies who really dislike being touched with cold wipes! This was a total luxury, but I have no regrets in buying one! I definitely used it and it made diaper changes in the middle of the night less alarming for my babies because sometimes they’re half asleep when you change them and a cold wipe really can jolt them out of a good snooze! lol
- Disposable changing pads – great for when your baby is going through an explosive poops stage….it prevents you from having to wash your actual changing pad constantly 🙂
- Extra bottles and nipples
- Musical toy or mobile – my babies really loved watching the spinning animals!
- Car carrier cover – These are especially great for winter to block the cold wind from reaching your little one. You can actually get a free car seat canopy…the instructions for requesting one are in this post >> Free Stuff for New Moms
Expensive Stuff to Put on Your Registry
Remember when I said you don’t want to run into the situation where little old Miss Nancy couldn’t find anything to buy you, so she got you a random item you never wanted?
Well, one reason why some people buy random things is because there’s nothing sufficiently valuable enough on your registry. I know this is true because several people told me this!
Some people just want to get you the “best” gift available. I’m talking hundreds of dollars worth. So just for those gift givers, make sure you have some high priced items on your registry!
Here are some products I used myself and LOVED and recommend to every new mom:
- Fisher Price Rainforest Jumparoo – this is quite possibly the best investment I ever made in something to entertain my babies! All three of them used it and loved it!
- Baby Cradle Swing – We loved this spot for putting my youngest in during the day while everyone was playing around him. The girls were old enough to know not to swing him themselves. lol It’s a large item so we put it in our living room.
- Baby Monitor
- Pack-n-Play – if you plan on traveling at ALL, you’ll need one of these. They’re also handy for having on one level of your house where you don’t have a crib but might need to put baby down safely for a while.
- Vibrating Rocking Chair – this is good for fussy babies because the vibrations are very soothing
- Kick-n-Play Mat – this keeps baby entertained really well for short periods of time so you can get stuff done!
- Reclining High Chair – this is really great for when you want baby to sit in a chair but he or she isn’t able to sit up yet…this one reclines and makes feeding time a breeze. It’s wipeable and easy to clean, too.
- Wooden High Chair – We loved having a wooden high chair because babies are MESSY and it’s so easy to clean this up versus one of those more fluffy chairs with padding. This is for when your baby is a little bit older and can sit up on their own and feed themselves a bit.
Readers Ask: What Do You Really Truly Need?
When you’re a new 1st time mom, you really don’t know what to expect before birth. Here are some really great first-time mom questions that I hope will help you –
Can you use normal towels for a baby?
While hooded towels and super soft baby towels are super cute and nice to have, they are not absolutely necessary for a baby. You can use normal towels for your baby. A nice fluffy regular sized bath towel works great for keeping baby warm and dry on the way to be changed.
What is the most expensive baby item?
Even if you don’t go overboard on your budget for newborn items, several things can be fairly expensive. One of the most expensive baby items is a crib with mattress. An inexpensive crib + mattress set set can be $200 to $400. You can find affordable options at Target, Walmart, and Amazon.
What should you put on the baby registry for dad?
Dads are an important part of your baby’s life. I recommend getting things that make daddy / baby bonding time special. If your husband or significant other will be helping take care of the baby, you definitely don’t want to forget a rocking chair, bottles for pumped breastmilk or formula feedings, and books!
Can you have a baby registry without a baby shower?
I find that even if you don’t have an official baby shower, people are excited to buy gifts for you when you’re pregnant. Creating a registry even if you aren’t going to have a shower is a good idea. That way you can send a link to a list of your favorite items. This also helps avoid receiving duplicate items.
How many baby gifts should you register for?
I find that it’s better to register for MORE items than not. A good rule of thumb is to register for a variety of gift types in a wide range of prices and to register for two gifts per guest you expect to attend your baby shower. If you work in an office or have more than one circle of friends, you may find that you need enough items for TWO baby showers worth of guests.
The number of items doesn’t matter as much as having a good variety for all the different people who may want to buy you a gift. If an item is too expensive, then several people may decide to combine funds to purchase it.
- Summer Newborn Essentials
- Winter Newborn Necessities
- Baby Things You Can Get for Free in the Mail (carseat canopy, nursing pillow, etc)
- Cool Gift Ideas for Moms Right After Giving Birth (even when she’s still in the hospital!)
- Second Baby Gift Ideas – Expecting baby #2 brings its own challenges. Including obtaining some items you need that you didn’t need with your first baby.