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Everything You Need for a Newborn Baby

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Marissa is the writer of "ThePracticalMommy" and owner of Mommy Knows What's Best. She's a former teacher and a stay-at-home mom to four.

Newborn Baby Essentials

Learn about the items you need for your newborn baby, along with some items you may not need.

Learn about the items you need for your newborn baby, along with some items you may not need.

Preparing for a Newborn Baby

Expecting a little one soon? Congratulations! That's exciting news. I bet you're excited to start gathering items so you can care for your newborn.

Here's a guide to what you may need for a newborn in the first month or so. You may be surprised at how small this list seems, but when the baby arrives, you'll understand that there's much that you don't need to buy or have ready for a newborn.

Newborn Necessities

When a baby enters this world, they need very little. For the first few weeks of life, all the baby will do is eat, sleep, and (you should have seen this coming) poop. There's not much else a baby does until about 3-5 months!

Most of the things parents rush out to buy or add to their registries when they learn they're pregnant are for them, not necessarily for the baby. Do you think a newborn really cares whether or not their poop splatters on a designer diaper changing mat? Um, no.

If you want to save money and be practical about what you need for the first few weeks of life, you need to focus on a few categories: feeding, diapering, clothing, traveling, and bathing. But first, let's take a look at baby's first day and what you should bring in your hospital bag.

Pregnancy Hospital Bag

Most of what you will pack in your hospital bag will be for you. If you are giving birth in a hospital or a birthing center, much of what your baby needs in the first few days will be provided for you. This is what you can bring for the baby:

  • A going home outfit. When you bring the baby home, you can change them into the outfit of your choice, plus any outwear needed depending on the weather. You can bring a few extra outfits if you'd like, but I found extra outfits to be useless since the baby is swaddled most of the time and the hospital provides t-shirts or onesies. Hats and swaddling blankets are also provided by the hospital, but if you'd rather gender-specific ones, feel free to bring a few along.
  • An infant car seat. Many hospitals will ask to see your infant car seat before they release the baby. It is illegal and not safe to drive without one; heaven forbid you should have an accident and the baby is injured or worse! Choose one that is a carrier seat that easily clicks into a base that is secured to the car.

Diapers and wipes are almost always provided by the hospital, so they're not necessary to bring along. Pacifiers are also usually provided, although they're not necessary.

One extra item I brought along was a baby record book or journal, to record the baby's vitals, measurements, and footprints while in the hospital.

Feeding a Newborn Baby

What you need to feed a baby depends on how you're going to feed the baby. If you choose to exclusively breastfeed, you'll need a lot less than if you choose to bottle feed.

If you're going to breastfeed, you'll need some nursing bras, bra pads to catch leaks, a breast pump and supplies if you need to pump, burp cloths, and bibs. It wouldn't hurt to also have a few bottles if you need to let someone else feed the baby.

If you choose to bottle feed, you'll need formula, at least 4-10 bottles, nipples with low flow for newborns, a bottle brush, burp cloths and bibs, and a dishwasher basket to wash the supplies.

In either case, there's no need for fashionable burp cloths, a fancy bottle warmer, or a bottle drying rack:

  • Babies spit up on burp cloths; the simple white cloth diapers will work excellently for this purpose and be much larger than the smaller decorated burp cloths. They are also less expensive!
  • Bottle warmers aren't necessary and take up space. To warm a bottle, you can put it in a measuring cup or bowl and then add hot water around it. You can also simply hold the bottle under hot running water.
  • Bottle drying racks are also not necessary and take up space. If you already have a drying rack for your dishes, you can simply use that or use a clean, dry towel on the counter top.

Boppy Nursing Pillow

One thing I didn't think I needed but ended up loving is my Boppy Nursing Pillow. It fits right around your middle and makes both nursing and bottle feeding much easier to position the baby correctly and eases discomfort on your body, especially after a c-section.

Boppy Nursing Pillows come in a variety of patterns and can be used even after you're done using it for feeding the baby!

Diapers for Babies

After a baby eats, the food travels through their system and then, you guessed it: pee and/or poo comes out. Diapers help to catch all (or in some cases, most) of the mess so that it can be easily and safely disposed of until the baby learns to use the potty.

There are two choices for diapering: cloth or disposable. Both have their pros and cons, but for each, you need plenty on hand when you have a newborn. A newborn will go though about 10-15 diapers a day; that's nearly 100 in one week! If you use cloth diapers and wash them on a daily basis, you can get away with having about 20-30 of them. If you use disposable diapers, you'll most likely need a large box of them to get you through the week.

For newborns, it's nice to have the umbilical cord cut-out, but it's not necessary. The front of the diaper can be folded down a bit until the cord comes off.

As far as sizes are concerned: don't stock up on the newborn or Size 1 diapers. You won't really know what size your baby will need until they're born. After you find out what size works, buy them as you need them. Babies don't tend to stay in the smaller sizes too long.

To dispose of the disposables, you can buy a diaper pail or use a garbage can with a flip-top lid. In my experience, diaper pails are a pain to use, have expensive refills, and smell to the high heavens. For much less, you can use a flip-top garbage can, a garbage bag, and grocery bags for the really stinky bags. No need to buy refills or struggle to get the diaper in the pail.

Some other items to include when changing the baby's diaper are wipes, diaper cream, and a changing mat (if you don't have a changing table).

Baby Shower Registry

Two things you should add to your baby shower registry are diapers and wipes. When you register for diapers, choose sizes 2 and 3 as your baby will be in those sizes the longest and it'll be nice down the road to have extras. When registering for wipes, choose a dye-free, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic kind for your baby's delicate skin.

What Baby Clothes Do You Need?

Baby fashion trends are just as popular--and perhaps as expensive--as adult fashion trends. Every mother is enticed by the notion that the fashionable clothes will make their precious newborn super cute and irresistible.

Here's a little secret: Newborns spit-up, pee, poop, and grow out of their clothing in record speeds.

Personally, I don't see the need in buying expensive newborn clothing that could be easily damaged or only last for a few weeks, unless of course it's an outfit for the first family outing, a baptism, christening, or first photos.

A newborn only needs a few items of clothing, especially in the first few weeks. Here's what you should have:

  • 5-10 Onesies (body suits) or snap-side t-shirts
  • 5-10 pairs of footed pajamas
  • 2-4 shirts
  • 2-4 pairs of pants
  • a few pairs of socks or booties
  • 3-5 hats
  • 3-5 swaddling blankets or sleep sacks
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens
  • a winter coat or baby bunting (for winter babies)
  • a sunhat (for spring/summer babies)

Don't go crazy at first buying too many things in the same size. Newborns will outgrow their clothing quickly. Average size newborns might fit best in newborn sized clothing, but they'll only be in it for two weeks at best. Clothing in size 0-3 months will last longer, even though it may be a bit big at first.

Shoes aren't necessary for newborns. Socks and booties will suffice until your little one is moving around more.

Clothing on Baby Registry

Don't register for too many clothing items in small sizes. Your newborn will outgrow them quickly! If you add clothing to your registry, make sure to choose some clothing in bigger sizes so that you're prepared later on as your baby grows.

Chances are you'll receive tons of newborn sized clothing as gifts anyway. Don't cut the tags off just yet! Sort through what you receive and choose what items you're most likely to use. Anything extra can be exchanged for bigger sizes as you need them.

Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Baby Bath Items

In the first few days of life, your baby won't be able to take a bath since he/she will still have the umbilical cord stump attached. For the early days, you'll only need a towel or two, a soft washcloth, and some cotton balls with which to clean your baby.

Once the umbilical cord has come off, your baby can be immersed in water. Some mothers like to bathe their babies in the kitchen sink, while others prefer the baby bath tubs designed just for babies. There are those that also use the bath seats which can be placed in a regular bathtub.

While giving your newborn a bath, it's important to have all of the necessary bath time items within reach. Some of these items include:

  • Wash cloths: One to wash with, and the other to cover baby's privates in case of an accident.
  • Gentle baby wash: Johnson and Johnson has always made the best baby wash, although I have found generic brands and organic brands to be wonderful. Shampoo isn't really necessary until the baby has a lot of hair.
  • Baby brush. I keep a gentle baby brush handy to help with the removal of any cradle cap, which can be done while the baby's scalp is wet.
  • Towel. Hooded towels are nice as they keep baby's head covered after he/she is removed from the bath.
  • Lotion or baby oil. Right after the bath, you can apply lotion or baby oil.

It would also be a good idea to have a diaper and the baby's clothes nearby as well so that you can put them on as soon as bath time is over.

First YearsBaby Bath Tub

Setting Up a Nursery

Most new parents try to set up the baby's nursery before the newborn arrives. While newborns tend to stay in their parents' room in a bassinette or co-sleeper for the first few weeks or months, it's still fun to set up the room and decorate.

Here's what you could have in your nursery:

  • Crib. Make sure it is up to the current safety standards, especially if it is second hand. Keep in mind that drop-side cribs are generally not considered safe these days. The mattress should be firm and also be up to the current safety standards.
  • Fitted sheets. Make sure any fitted sheets you use are tightly fitted to the mattress. They come in a variety of colors and can match the décor.
  • A rocker or chair. It's nice to have a chair in the room to make nighttime feedings easier.
  • A dresser or a chest of drawers. You need a place to keep all of baby's clothing and other items, unless you have an awesome closet and like hanging the clothing on baby hangers. The dresser can also double as a changing table with a simple changing pad added to the top and a basket with necessary diaper changing items.
  • A small lamp or night light. Trust me: you don't want to walk into a baby's room at night and turn on a bright ceiling light. A small light or night light will give you just enough light to see what you're doing should you need to change a midnight diaper or two.
  • Baby monitor. It can be very comforting to be able to hear what the baby is up to, especially when he/she sleeps in the crib for the very first time. A simple audio monitor will suffice, unless you absolutely won't sleep without seeing your little one on a video monitor.

Reduce Risk of SIDS

There are a few things parents add to their nurseries that might increase the risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. The following items are not necessary and are no longer considered safe to have in the crib:

  • Bumper pads. Newborns and infants do not move around enough to significantly hurt their heads on cribs. In fact, older babies and toddlers don't move around enough to hurt their heads as they sleep (climbing out of a crib is a whole other matter).
  • Quilts or blankets. Newborns and infants can become trapped under quilts and blankets. They generally will use a swaddler or sleep sack for their first few months.
  • Pillows or sleep positioners. Babies don't need pillows, and they can suffocate in a sleep positioner.

Playtime for a Newborn

It may seem silly, but newborns need a bit of playtime or alone time just like us. They need a safe place to stay in while they have this alone time (or in some cases, nap time). Here are some items to have:

  • Baby swing or bouncer seat. Baby swings and bouncers provide a safe, comfortable seat for newborns as they take in their surroundings, plus they give you a chance to complete a task or take a rest. These swings or seats are generally very colorful and have music for the baby.
  • Play Yard. A play yard is an item that can be used from infancy through toddlerhood. It is a foldable play area that has a firm mattress and see-through netted sides. Many today come with a bassinette attachment for infants, plus a diaper changing area. They can be easily transported from room to room or taken on a trip.

Newborns also need tummy time to strengthen their necks. A nice item to have is a tummy time play mat which can be used until the baby is standing months down the road. They are colorful and have mirrors or little toys for the baby to look at and eventually reach for.

Tummy Time Play Mat

A tummy time mat gives a newborn a comfy and fun area to exercise the neck muscles.

A tummy time mat gives a newborn a comfy and fun area to exercise the neck muscles.

Traveling with Baby

While it's wise to keep baby away from the general germy public for a few weeks, it doesn't mean you need to be trapped inside or refrain from visiting family or friends. Having a sturdy, easy to use stroller is great, especially one that can accommodate the infant baby carrier car seat until the baby is able to sit up.

Baby stores and boutiques will try to sell you stroller models that cost anywhere from $400 to over $1,000 for all the bells and whistles, but it's fairly easy to find a stroller for much less. Browse through the reviews written by consumers online to find a stroller that best suits your needs and your budget.

Another option is to buy a baby carrier. There are different types of baby carriers, but my favorite two are wraps and soft structured carriers. You can carry baby and have your hands free to do anything else. Most last until toddlerhood.

Lillebaby Baby Carrier

Baby Strollers Reviews

For my firstborn, I had a Graco Travel System. It was great because it was easy to use, easy to fold, and accommodated my Graco Infant Car Seat perfectly.

When I was pregnant with my second child two years later, I looked into double strollers. I traded in my first stroller and bought the Baby Trend Sit-and-Stand double stroller. It too was easy to use and fold, despite the extra bulk. It had two seats, one in front and one in back. The second seat could be removed and an older child can sit on a platform or stand on a lower platform. Both seats accommodated an infant carrier car seat.

What to Pack in a Diaper Bag

Anytime you leave the house with your newborn, you'll want to be prepared with a well-stocked diaper bag. Diaper bags come in all shapes, sizes, and patterns. They range from a simple, over-the-shoulder bag to the trendy, fashionable bags that celebrities use.

A diaper bag is meant to hold necessary baby items when you're on the go: diapers, wipes, changing pad, baggies for dirty diapers, diaper cream, extra clothes, bottles, bibs, and burp cloths. Some come equipped with extra pockets for pacifiers, keys, phones, or other small items.

Keep the bag packed and ready to go (minus any pre-made formula or breast milk, of course). It'll be easy to grab when you're ready to leave the house with the baby.

Organizer Diaper Bag

My favorite diaper bag is my Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote. I also have a zipper bag and cooler inside to keep things neat.

My favorite diaper bag is my Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote. I also have a zipper bag and cooler inside to keep things neat.

Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote as Diaper Bag

How to Save Money on Newborn Baby Essentials

There are a variety of ways to spend money on newborn baby essentials:

  • Ask for free baby samples or products during pregnancy
  • Shop the sales
  • Use coupons
  • Register for everything on your baby shower registry
  • Borrow or buy second-hand items
  • Find items that have multiple uses or that will last through two or three babies

Newborn Necessities

Be prepared for your newborn, but remember not to go overboard. Newborns need very little, but there is one thing you can overdo: giving them lots of love.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Hazel on June 28, 2020:

Wow! Such a helpful article! Thank you!

Faith on January 07, 2019:

god bless for this

tanmay on May 27, 2018:

helpful and will help in planning better and sensible

Michelle Clairday from Arkansas on January 06, 2016:

What a helpful artucle! I couldn't agree with you more one what's essential and what's really more for mommy. Newborns grow so fast.

Marissa (author) from United States on October 27, 2015:

You're very welcome!

Kris on October 24, 2015:

Thank you for the wonderful article! I'm expecting my first child in February and I found your advice very helpful and encouraging. I feel overwhelmed by the advice pouring in from all sides, but this article organizes the information and helps me wrap my mind around it!

Marissa (author) from United States on October 18, 2015:

I suggest 4-10 bottles. There are some days when you're able to prepare them ahead of time and be ready for the whole day. There's some days when you're too exahausted to even think about washing dishes. It doesn't hurt to have a few spare bottles on hand.

lucia on October 16, 2015:

Do you really need 10 bottles for 1 baby? :-D

Chencha Morales on April 01, 2015:

This is very useful and if I had signed up for hub sooner I would have used this page as a check list. Good job.

Amazaving on January 16, 2015:

There is so much good advice crammed in here. Great job!

Pinky de Garcia on October 22, 2014:

Thanks for this motherhood guide.This is very hepful to first time moms. I think every tip was given. Two thumbs up!

jenn huey on June 26, 2014:

This post has been helpful as I am expecting my first two grandbabies this summer and we are busy trying to get everything they will need

Sweta Sonulkar on June 23, 2014:

love the article

Marissa (author) from United States on April 30, 2013:

Kevin Peter, thanks for reading! Glad you liked the hub.

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on April 30, 2013:

Every thing related to looking after a newborn baby is described so well in your hub. Your kids will be so lucky to have a mom like you. Thanks for the instructions. The first baby bath attracted me the most. The baby in that picture looks so cute.

Marissa (author) from United States on April 20, 2013:

J. Biaza, there definitely can be many difficult times, but each and every moment with a new baby can be precious since they grow up so fast! ;) Thanks for reading.

J. Biaza from USA on April 19, 2013:

From the outside looking in, being a new mom should be joyful, happy, full of love and happiness every ending. Wait, I meant after your baby turns 18...

Marissa (author) from United States on December 08, 2012:

Audrey Baker, it definitely can be overwhelming for a first time parent. It's better to keep it simple so that caring for the baby is simple. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Audrey from Arizona on December 07, 2012:

I agree that a lot of products are essentially for the parents. This is a nice piece. With all the products available, it can be overwhelming for any first time parent.

Marissa (author) from United States on September 03, 2012:

sarahm415, thanks for reading and commenting! I think many first time moms are lost when it comes to buying all the new gear and supplies for a baby. Who wouldn't be with all of the choices out there! :) Best of luck with your baby girl!

Sarah Mara D from California on September 01, 2012:

This is so cute. I would have loved to read this before my baby girl was born. I swear, i was lost. Cutest baby pics ever :D

Marissa (author) from United States on August 16, 2012:

Jimmy, thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

Jimmy the jock from Scotland on August 16, 2012:

A great resource for any parents to be that all should read, You have everything you could ever need listed here and more. thanks for sharing .....jimmy

Marissa (author) from United States on August 16, 2012:

tillsontitan, thanks so much for reading and commenting! It's true; there are many new mothers and fathers out there who just don't realize what they really need for newborns, and what they really don't need. :)

Marissa (author) from United States on August 16, 2012:

algarveview, I think a lot of new moms buy or register for baby items they later realize they will never use. It's so easy to walk into a baby store and be enticed by all of the cool gadgets and fashionable items, especially when it's the first baby.

Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing!

Marissa (author) from United States on August 16, 2012:

teaches12345, thanks very much for reading and commenting! :)

Mary Craig from New York on August 16, 2012:

At my age I don't need this hub, however, there are a lot of new mothers out there with no clue. You've provided information every new mother needs and many things they wouldn't know or others might not think to tell them.

I voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.

Joana e Bruno from Algarve, Portugal on August 15, 2012:

Hello, this is a very useful hub, I sure could have used this info when my twins were born, I bought so much stuff I never used, you have no idea, the money I spent... Anyway, I'm not expecting a little one, but this needs sharing for all the new moms... Voted up and useful and sharing! Take care!

Dianna Mendez on August 14, 2012:

Great post and advice for young parents. All good and well done!

Marissa (author) from United States on August 14, 2012:

Lovelovemeloveme, thanks for the feedback. I tried to include as much detail as possible; it can be confusing and overwhelming when buying baby things! Thanks for reading and commenting!

Marissa (author) from United States on August 14, 2012:

Billy, your support is much appreciated! Thanks so much!!

Marissa (author) from United States on August 14, 2012:

Janine Huldie, I'm glad you liked the information and agree about the strollers. My first two are 2.5 years apart, but the Sit-and-Stand is still perfect for us.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing! :)

Lovelovemeloveme from Cindee's Land on August 13, 2012:

i don't have any children (yet) but i came to read any ways since I don't plan on being a nun or child-less forever. I found it very well organized, detailed, and nicely written. thanks a lot! I may go back to this in a few years when I pop one of those cute little critters out. :)

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 13, 2012:

I just dropped by for support; I'm not really needing this information. :) Great job!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on August 13, 2012:

This was so good and crammed with so much valuable information for newborns. Having had 2 myself, I totally agreed about the Graco Travel System and had one with my first and same here traded it in for the Baby Trend Sit and Stand when we had out second (they were only 16 months apart!). Have shared and VUMs too!!