Angie The Doula – New Parent and Baby Essentials

What are the most important items for new parents and their newborns? Everyone has different opinions about this.  Think about what you have to do with your baby.  A travelling family will have different needs than a family at home.

This New Parent and Baby Essentials list is from my experience along with comments from families with whom I’ve worked.  It’s biased toward being kind to the environment and keeping life simple.

Before we get started, I want to let you know that really all you need is a warm safe place to lay your babe, change your babe, and transport your babe.  Note that babies will go from laying stationary to rolling over in the blink of an eye.  Save your babe from a fall and potential injury by never leaving them unattended on a flat surface such as a bed or table, unless they’re surrounded by little rails or something that will both prevent rolling and suffocation.

New Parent and Baby Essentials

Essentials:

  • For maternal postpartum recovery and wellness:
    • Bottom spray (postpartum perineum-saver!!)
    • Adult diapers for the first week – not pretty but awesome way to prevent postpartum leaks
    • See breastfeeding section
  • Something to wear the baby – sling, wrap, carrier or baby pack for newborn i.e. supports head
    • May need a couple of methods to accommodate different adults – sizes, abilities, preferences
  • For baby:
    • Car seat
    • Baby blanket or cover for car seat
    • Receiving blankets – 20
    • Mini-wash cloths can be used as wipes – 40-50
    • Baby blanket for home
    • Digital thermometer
    • Q-tips, in case of care of umbilical cord
    • Baby nail clippers 
    • Saline-squirter or nose-sucker
    • Baby clothes – many people get way more than they need from family & friends
      • A few outfits including sleepers and undershirts
      • Socks & mitts
      • Outdoor clothing
      • For winter babes, outer clothing such as a fleece bunting-bag or something that covers hands and feet as part of the outfit.  Also a good hat that stays on.
      • For summer babes, a sun-hat, and thin clothing to cover up skin but not overheat
    • Baby ear-muffs (hearing protection), e.g. for music festivals, movie theatres
New Parent and Baby Essentials
  • For breastfeeding/chestfeeding:
    • Nipple cream or pharmaceutical grade lanolin (e.g. Lansinoh)
    • Nursing bras
    • Nursing pads (pref cotton, non-disposable)
    • For consideration: a little manual pump or milk collector device such as the Haakaa
    • Book: Womanly Art of Breastfeeding – quick answers for breastfeeding issues; easy to read and short fix-it suggestions
  • Diapering.  Set up a safe place and have supplies ready to use.
    • Change table with little rails, change pad (with sides) on a table or dresser, or towel on the floor
    • Diapers – what kind will you use?  Cloth or disposable (biodegradable, organic, or regular)
    • Wipes – washcloths / reusable, or disposable
    • If using cloth, you’ll need a storing, soaking and washing method.  Feel free to ask me.
  • Think about sleeping options:

CPS recommends baby sleeps in the same room as parents for the first year ideally, 6m minimum

  • Baby blanket or quilt; no pillows needed
  • Some kind of washable pad for under baby – can be anything from a proper baby-pad to a folded sheet.  This goes under the baby-sheet to avoid scrunching and twisted bedding.
  • Family bed – a futon on floor, extra-wide bed, or 3 sided crib that attaches or goes against parents’ bed
  • Family room – a safe place for baby to sleep in your room but not necessarily attached to bed ()
  • Baby room – high quality crib with slats close enough so a pop-can won’t fit through 
  • In a pinch – box, drawer or laundry basket
New Parent and Baby Essentials

Other things that make life easier (and are worth every cent!)…

  • Really great nursing pillow 
  • Smart Medicine for Healthier Kids book has both allopathic and holistic advice on childcare from newborn to teens
  • Calms book – a short read with great tips for learning to communicate with your new baby
  • Medicine dropper – has many uses other than medicine
  • Stroller, or Burley/Chariot 
  • High quality and “clean” baby care soap and laundry soap

Nice to have but not essential

  • Swing or Rocker
  • Baby-bath or Tummy Tub but another option is to just have a bath with your babe to minimize buying stuff.
  • Baby monitor, depending on your lifestyle and home layout.
  • Breast pump and glass bottles in case of emergency or depending on lifestyle.
  • Playpen  

I teach a variety of Child Birth Education classes and prenatal workshops online for people all over.  I have been a birth doula since 2002, and have helped over 300 clients with their births and over 1000 through prenatal classes. Learn more about my birth doula services, and contact me with any questions you may have.

Home Birth Supply List

Prepare Your Home Before 37 weeks:

  1. Midwife & doula contact info entered into cell-phones.
  2. A contact page on your fridge or pinned to a wall, easy to find, in case we have to call for fast help. (Trust me – brain-freeze is a thing!)  Please print, fill out and post this Homebirth Contact Form, or add the extra info to the page your midwives provide and ask you to post.
  3. Other “Important Phone Numbers” list on your fridge.
  4. Some cleared surfaces for equipment set-up.
  5. Plan for birth-attendant parking.
  6. Outside lights working, house # visible at night (may require a temporary # to be put up).
  7. Clear a path to door and through halls in case we have to quickly run in equipment for set up or quickly depart.
  8. Child-care plan (unless they’re attending birth; MW & doulas can offer tips).
  9. Pet-care plan – pets with teeth / claws absolutely need to be locked up or sent elsewhere as even the most gentle animal can become over-protective and stressed while mama’s in labour.
  10. If you’d like candles then please use only beeswax or battery-candles. The rest are toxic and can give your support people headaches.
  11. Get your bed “birth-ready” – make bed in this order (from bare mattress): extra mattress pad, sheets for after the birth, then a plastic liner/sheet or water-proof mattress pad, a regular mattress pad if you’re using a plastic sheet (optional but nice, because plastic gets hot and sticky; an extra flannel sheet works too), “birth” sheets, blankets & pillow cases that can be used for birth.  Have pillow cases and blankets for after the birth nearby.  Note: if you don’t wish to sleep with plastic in the days/weeks before birth, please have all this ready near bed so someone can quickly make the bed during labour.
    Note: Waterproof plastic liner/sheets can be a clear shower curtain liner or plastic drop-sheet (like a thin tarp). Mattress stores sell nice waterproof mattress pads that feel like normal bedding.
  12. If you’re planning a water birth then ensure hot water temperature is turned up
  13. Birth-Kit from MW (if she provides this; otherwise purchase and assemble yourself):
    – Package of 10 or more large absorbent under-pads / “blue pads”
    – Peri-bottle for postpartum perineal care (one per washroom)
    – 4 -6 pair disposable mesh underwear
  14. If you have a guest-room, it’s nice to have it ready for birth-attendants, just in case.
  15. Extra bits if you’re planning a water birth:
    Note: I am a water birth expert and can offer all kinds of guidance if there are issues with any of this, but we need to know ahead of time!
    – Purchase / rent birth pool (unless your bath-tub is appropriate) and all related supplies.
    – Determine where and when to set up the pool.
    – Tarp to protect the floor. Padding under the tarp is nice.
    – Hot water temperature is turned up.
    – Ensure the hose for filling the birth pool fits one of your taps and reaches your pool. Seriously, you can not imagine how often this isn’t done and foils waterbirth plans! Do not just assume it all fits. If the hose won’t connect then you’ll need an adapter or extra pump; ask me.

Birth Containers

Please prepare in plastic tubs or reserved laundry baskets; boxes work in a pinch.

 1) Dryer Items
These items will be warmed in the dryer prior to birth.  Place in a separate bag or container, stored near dryer or with Birth Container). Washed and ready for use; will get soiled or stained so consider Thrift Store purchases.

  • 6 towels (make it 8-10 for waterbirth!)
  • 6 receiving blankets
  • 2 hats for baby
  • 3 flannel sheets/blankets for mother (4 for for waterbirth)

2) Other Linen
This is in addition to the Dryer Items above.  This linen is kept in a separate container please, near birth-spacee e.g. in bedroom, by birth-pool.  Washed and ready for use; will get soiled or stained so consider Thrift Store purchases.

  • Newborn outfit incl. diaper, undershirt, sleeper, socks, hat and blankets
  • Nighty / PJs for mother
  • Set of sheets to fit bed
  • 1-2 flannel sheets/light blankets for waterbirth
  • 6 old washcloths, old diapers, etc. for hot compresses
  • 10 washcloths for mother comfort
  • 6 towels; make it 12 minimum for waterbirth!
  • 10 cloths/rags for clean-up after

3) Other Items
Keep this in a container close to or in birth-space.
Note: There may be some repeats from the Birth Bag Suggestions list, which you’re encouraged to check out for some great ideas of things you can use at home, hospital or birth centre.

  • Large plastic sheet to protect bedding – e.g. drop sheet or plastic shower curtain liner (see above for how to prepare your bed for birth)
  • 4 large, strong garbage bags (2 for garbage, plus replacements)
  • Large laundry bin or an additional large strong garbage bag to collect soiled linens
  • 1 large roll paper towel (please – no matter how much you love Mother Earth
  • Plastic ice cream pail or other suitable container with lid for placenta
  • Flashlight with new batteries
  • Large pkg. maxi pads, extra long (the bigger, thicker the pad the better). Avoid pads with a “dry-weave” topping as they can be irritating to your perineum
  • Small bottle of peroxide – best thing ever to clean blood from surfaces and fabrics
  • Flexible straws
  • Cookie sheet or other large firm portable surface
  • Bottle of hydrogen peroxide (cleans blood stains)
  • Digital thermometer
  • Q-tips, in case of care of umbilical cord
  • (optional) Small unopened bottle of food-grade oil e.g. coconut for crowning
  • (optional) Large saucepan or Crockpot for heating compresses and oils

4) Waterbirth
Your pool should have come with a supply list.  Please ask if you need more info.  If you’re lucky enough to have a big comfy built-in tub, the only extra thing you’ll need is a floating thermometer and a small fish-net or sieve.

Nourishment

Think about lots of healthy foods and drinks (Labour-Drinks) you and your family might enjoy during and after labour and birth, and stock up.  HINT– birth attendants LOVE tea and snacks too! 😉

Make a few trays of ice-cubes (can keep cubes in a zip-lock).