Congratulations! If you’re reading this article it’s likely you or someone you love is expecting their first baby. New parents have a lot on their plate when planning for the arrival of their bundle of joy. To make your life easier we’ve compiled a list of must-have baby essentials for first-time parents.
These recommendations will help you build your baby’s wardrobe before they’re born and be your guide to dressing them throughout their first year:
- 5-7 Onesies
- 4-6 Sleeper Gowns or Sleep Sacks
- 3-7 Bodysuits
- 1-2 Hats
- 4-5 Pairs of Pants or Shorts
- 6-7 Pairs of Socks
- 3-5 Blankets
- 1 Jacket and 1 Sweater
- 1-2 Pairs of Mittens and Booties
- 1 Seasonal Extra
When you’re shopping or adding clothes to your baby registry, keep these things in mind:
- Clothes with bottom snaps or front zippers are easiest for quick diaper changes.
- Clothing with ribbons, buttons, or anything that could come loose presents a choking hazard.
- Stretchy fabrics are best for painless outfit changes and are most comfortable for your little one.
- Tops with loose sleeves will help you maneuver their tiny arms into position.
The clothing bundles from Nurture& are all made of 100% organic Pima cotton for cloud-like softness against your baby’s skin. The onesies have bottom snaps for diaper access and envelope folds at the shoulders for flexibility when putting it on or taking it off.
Babies are constantly hungry and eating to keep up with their rapidly growing bodies. First-time moms and dads can stock up on these essentials to prepare for every kind of feeding time:
- A nursing pillow like this can save your tired arms some work during long feeding sessions. These pillows also offer great support while your postpartum body is healing.
- Burp cloths (6-12) will protect your clothes from spit-up messes or can be used to wipe off your baby’s face.
- Bibs (8-10) to cover your little one’s clothes while they’re nursing can help you avoid another outfit change.
- Nursing bras (2-3) that unclip at the top of the bra cup are convenient when you have an impatient, hungry new baby.
- Nipple cream will ease the pain of dry, cracked nipples.
- Nursing pads to tuck into your bra will catch any leaking breast milk.
- A breast pump will extract your milk into a bottle for anyone to feed to your baby.
- Breast milk bags will collect the milk straight from your breast pump if you don’t need the bottle right now and want to save it for later.
- A nursing cover provides privacy while breastfeeding or keeps your curious baby from getting distracted while they’re eating.
- Baby bottles with a slow-flow nipple are best for newborns. It’s not outrageous to say you’ll want ten bottles ready for the day if you’re exclusively bottle feeding.
- Enough baby formula to get you through the first month. This might come in the form of one big container or several smaller ones in different varieties, like original and sensitive. Get in touch with a pediatrician before your baby’s due date to discuss formula options.
- Bottle brushes (2) for the daily cleaning of all the bottles your baby uses. Have the second bottle brush on stand-by when the other is dirty or take it with you to clean bottles while you travel.
- An insulated bottle carrier will keep pre-made bottles at the right temperature when your baby gets hungry on the go.
- A bottle sterilization machine sanitizes new bottles before their first use and provides an extra measure of cleaning to the daily washing.
- A formula dispenser holds pre-measured amounts of formula powder so all you have to do is pour it into the correct amount of water. Have the water already filled in the bottle for quick mixes in the middle of the night.
- A highchair secures your baby in an upright position so you can sit face-to-face with them while they eat. Always be sure to supervise your little one in the chair and use the straps to buckle your baby in and keep them from falling.
- Small bowls (2-3) for baby food. Serving different foods in separate bowls is a good way to introduce new meals to your baby. Babies can learn to grab and scoop food from the bowl, but make sure it’s made from a material that won’t break if it gets thrown on the floor.
- Baby spoons (3-5) are just the right size to feed your baby their first solids with. They later become the first utensil your baby uses as they learn to feed themselves. Skip the metal spoons in the beginning and look for soft-tipped or full silicone spoons that are gentle on your baby’s gums.
- Sippy cups (3-5) can be used as soon as you notice your baby’s hand-to-mouth coordination getting stronger. Don’t expect much drinking to happen at first. Chewing on a soft spout sippy cup is the first step to your baby figuring out how the cup works. Keep a handful of sippy cups in the cupboard for the times one goes missing or you forget to run the dishwasher before bed.
- Waterproof bibs (5-10) will keep your new eater clean and dry during meals. Look for the larger bibs that cover the whole front of your baby’s outfit. Some bibs even have sleeved arms or pouches at the bottom to catch fallen food. A good bib will save you clean-up time.
Whether you’re getting your baby clean at the end of a messy day or helping them calm down in warm water, these baby products will help you create a successful bathtime routine:
- A baby bathtub contains bath water in a small area while supporting your baby as you wash them. There are baby bathtubs that are adjustable as your baby grows. They have a mesh sling to cradle a newborn baby in the water, then a solid inclined space to lay down when they’re a few months old, and a flat bottom seat with a backrest for supported sitters.
- Soap and shampoo made specifically for babies are important for bathtime. They’re designed to be gentle on your baby’s sensitive skin and create that classic clean baby smell.
- Infant bath towels (2-3) with a hood will keep your baby warm as you make the transfer from the tub to the changing station to get them dressed.
- Small washcloths (4-6) are handy for lathering up the soap to wash your baby. Once your baby starts grabbing at things, it’s helpful to give them one washcloth to hold while you clean them with a second one.
- Baby bath toys are a fun distraction to keep even the crankiest baby entertained as they soak in the tub. They also provide an opportunity for babies to explore the water and learn to feel comfortable in it.
- Baby lotion is a soothing final step to your bathtime routine. We usually think of water as moisture, but it actually dries out our—and our babies’—skin. Before getting dressed, give your baby a quick massage with a lotion that matches the scent of their bath soap.
The most repetitive act of new moms and dads is changing diapers. You’ll be changing a lot of diapers so have these items ready:
- Diapers, of course. Whether you’re going the disposable or cloth diaper route, have a newborn size and the next size up ready and waiting before you bring your baby home. It’s hard to know what size your baby will start out in, or how long before they grow out of them so have two options.
- Baby wipes. You can’t have too many baby wipes. You’ll need them for every diaper change, but they’re also useful when you need to quickly wipe a little spit up off your shirt or clean a sticky baby hand. A sensitive, unscented wipe is a safe choice for any baby.
- A diaper pail keeps your home from hanging onto the smell of that diaper you changed 30 minutes ago. After each diaper change, simply deposit the dirty diaper and it locks in the stench. When it’s full, you’ll have a bag ready to go out with the trash or a collection of cloth diapers to be washed.
- Diaper rash cream isn’t necessary for every diaper change, but it can be a lifesaver if your baby’s bottom becomes irritated. This might happen if you didn’t notice they needed a change, you weren’t able to get to your supplies right away (like during a car ride), or they’re sick. A cream with zinc oxide will clear up an existing rash and a petroleum jelly or A&D ointment creates a barrier on the skin to prevent the inflammation from starting.
- A changing table puts your baby at a comfortable working height when you’re cleaning and dressing them. At home, set up a functional changing station where everything you need is within reach. This is easy to do when you have your changing pad on top of the nursery dresser.
Keep your baby interested in playtime as they develop their fine and gross motor skills with these amusing must-haves:
- Pacifiers (3-5) are soothing to babies. They can help some babies fall asleep or calm down when they’re upset. However, they shouldn’t be used in place of feeding or to “stretch” time between feeds. When used at the right times, pacifiers are comforting to a baby’s natural suckling reflex and support hand-eye coordination as they learn to put it in and out of their mouth on their own.
- Small baby toys (3-5) are easy for tiny baby hands to hold. Toys like rattles, silicone teethers, and soft dolls or animals make for good first toys. Avoid toys with sharp edges, dangling strings, or tiny pieces that could come loose. Before you give any toy to your baby, inspect it knowing that it will go into your baby’s mouth. If there’s any question as to whether it’s safe, opt for a different toy you know is safe.
- Books (5-7) are fun for babies. Most books geared toward babies have brightly colored pictures and short storylines. Find board books or books with fabric pages so your little one can hold them on their own and eventually practice turning the pages. You can instill a love for reading by reading a story to your baby or simply talking about the pictures on each page.
- A mobile securely attached to the crib rail is simple entertainment for the littlest babies who are starting to pay attention to what’s around them. Some mobiles are stationary as the toys dangle over your baby and some spin in a slow circle while music plays. Remove the mobile once your baby learns how to sit up in their crib and can pull it down into the bed with them.
- A playmat is the heart of your baby’s play area. It’s a safe place to practice rolling and sitting up, a central site to contain toys, and a soft spot for you to get down on the floor with your baby. The Playpad is a cushioned, vegan leather playmat that’s perfect for your baby’s first tummy time through their toddler tumbles.
- A baby swing is a must-have for a baby who likes to be in motion—which happens to be most babies. A baby swing simulates the familiar feeling of being cradled in your womb as you go about your day. Babies are often put to sleep by the rhythmic motion of the swing and it becomes their favorite place for a supervised midmorning catnap.
- An activity center gets your little one off the floor in an upright position. In short chunks of time, this is a fun place to play for a baby with good head control. Colorful toys around the seat can move and make noise at your baby’s touch without falling to the floor.
Health and Safety
The safety and well-being of your baby are your highest priority as a new parent. To help provide your baby with the best care possible, consider these items:
- Baby safety gates block off stairways or rooms that are off-limits to a baby on the move. Be sure to check that the one you buy is the proper height and width for the doorway or stairwell you’ll use it in. And take note of how the gate attaches to the wall before you make a purchase. Some are pressure mounted while others require hardware installed to each end.
- Outlet covers are a simple, but important safety measure. Putting the plastic inserts into each electrical outlet in your home protects your baby from sticking anything else in there that could cause an electrical shock.
- Cupboard and drawer latches come in different styles and keep your curious kid from getting into the things they’re not supposed to get their hands on. Some are magnetized and only unlocked with a magnet key. Some are installed just inside the door so that you can open it slightly and press the lever down to unlock it. Others attach to the outside handles of cabinets and require a strong pinch to release.
- Toilet seat locks. If you aren’t blocking your bathroom with a baby gate, it will give you extra piece of mind to have a baby-proof lock on your toilet seat. An open toilet bowl full of water looks like an inviting place to play for a newly mobile baby. Keep the lid down with a seat strap or bar that an adult can open by pressing a button.
- Anti-tip straps and wall anchors are crucial accessories to large baby furniture. Babies will use whatever is nearby to pull up on when they are learning to stand. The strap attached from the furniture to the wall behind it won’t fall over on your baby while they’re exploring.
- Keep a first aid kit at home and with you on the go. Organize things like bandages, gauze pads, antibiotic ointment, bandage scissors, and a choking plunger in a central location so that in an emergency you know where to find what you need. You might also keep things like fever reducers or medications for when your child is sick in the same area or container.
- A nasal aspirator can help unclog a stuffy nose. Be sure to read instructions or follow your pediatrician’s advice on when and how to use it properly. Inserting a nasal aspirator too far into the nose can cause inflammation, making the stuffiness worse.
- A humidifier in the nursery makes the room comfortable. Air from a warm mist humidifier is easier to breathe in, but can create a lot of excess heat in a small room and is a safety concern if it were to be knocked over. A cool mist humidifier keeps moisture in the air without much temperature change and won’t cause burns if spilled.
- A set of baby nail clippers or a nail file are essential to keeping tiny baby fingernails from becoming sharp claws. Trimmed or filed fingernails prevent unintentional scratches when your baby’s hands are on their own face or reaching up to yours.
- A soft bristhairbrush is a nice way to tame the mane of a baby born with a full head of hair. The soft hairbrush can also be used on a baby with little hair as a way to remove the cradle cap as it loosens up on your baby’s scalp. They often come in grooming kits that include nail clippers, nasal aspirators, and a small first toothbrush—making it a great addition to your baby shower registry.
- A thermometer is another product you can keep with your first aid or medication kit. Having more than one type isn’t a bad idea since some situations call for a different kind of temperature check. The most accurate reading for a baby under three months old comes from their rectal temperature on a digital thermometer. It may be easier to quickly scan an older baby with a temporal (forehead) or tympanic (ear) thermometer.
Baby gear is made with specific uses in mind. Check out these must-haves for when you’re going out or your baby is sleeping at home:
- A car seat is a necessity if you want to take your baby anywhere. Infant carrier car seats that detach from the anchored base in your car are convenient to grab and go when you need to make a quick stop at the grocery store. You don’t have to unbuckle and carry your baby in your arms; take the whole seat with you.
- A baby carrier or wrap is a hands-free way to keep your baby close to you. Put the carrier or wrap on yourself first and then strap your little one in against your chest to move with you as you go.
- A stroller is handy for transporting your baby at outside events or inside a store. Strollers can be purchased on their own or with a car seat that attaches for a quick transition from the car.
- Choose a diaper bag that is spacious enough for your diapering supplies and is easy for you to carry. A cross-body or backpack style is great when you are out and about. A tote bag might be better for baby items you want to keep in the car. Fill it with diapers, wipes, creams, a changing mat, and a clean outfit. Add a blanket, baby toys, bottles, or anything else your baby might need while you’re away from home.
- A bassinet may be the first place you put your baby down to sleep. A small, flat bed that you can keep right next to you is perfect for a newborn baby. However, babies grow quickly and you’ll want a crib on standby for when the day comes to make the transition.
- A crib with a firm crib mattress will be your baby's bed for the longest stretch of time so look for quality pieces that will last. Invest in a new crib and mattress so you know it will be a safe space for your baby.
- A glider is a must-have for every baby nursery. The collection of gliders available from Nurture& include seating that is functional for rocking your baby to sleep before you lay them down and comfortable enough to hold onto those cuddles for their entire naptime.
- A bouncer seat can be a good alternative to holding your baby while they nap. The seated position of the bouncer can be used for a short snooze, but make sure to stay nearby and move them to the crib if you want to let them sleep longer.
- A fitted crib sheet is the only bedding you need in the crib. Save the blankets and pillows for when you convert to the toddler bed.
- Baby swaddles (5-6). Tuck your newborn in a swaddle blanket so they feel snug in their new sleep environment. Swaddles made of fleece are great for cold winter months and lightweight muslin swaddles are perfect for the summer.
- Wearable blankets (2-3) are different from swaddles because they allow arm movement. The zip-up pouch that goes on like a vest around your baby’s torso keeps them covered while they sleep without the possibility of the blanket moving up and blocking their airway.
- A baby monitor will make your life easier when you want to check on your sleeping baby, but you’re afraid you’ll wake them up if you go into the room. Find a model with audio and video options so you know exactly what is going on in the crib.