What are the most important items for new parents and their newborns? Everyone has different opinions about this. Stores and ads would have us buy all kinds of things. What do you really need? Think about what you have to do with your baby. For example, 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 (other than love, food, shelter) is a warm safe place for your baby to sleep when they’re not in your arms, diapers (unless you’re doing EC) and a system for cleaning your baby, and a safe and comfortable way to transport them. 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.
- 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 below
- Something to wear or a way to hold 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 – and babies
- For baby:
- See Diaper section below
- Car seat
- Baby blanket or cover for car seat
- Receiving blankets – 20
- Mini-wash cloths can be used as wipes – 40-50 if you’re not using disposable wipes
- 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 much 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
- 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 , ideally for the entire first year, but for a minimum of 6 months.
- 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 against the wall, 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
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.
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.