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What Do You Need for a New Baby?

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Things You Need for a Newborn

What does a newborn baby need? Diapers, clothes, and a lot of love.

What does a newborn baby need? Diapers, clothes, and a lot of love.

What Does a Baby Need?

The amount of products available for the tiniest of humans is massive. Trying to decide on what you really need before your baby comes home can be overwhelming, as you don't want to miss out on any vital need when baby arrives.

Many baby items are quite frivolous and serve no purpose. A "pee" guard for little boys? You'll never use it. You'll use the diaper as a shield instead. A wipes warmer? Another unneeded baby supply. So what do you need for baby? Check out the following suggestions to have the basics in place before your little one comes home.

Checklist for Baby

What will you need when baby is born? A checklist for vital baby supplies.

What will you need when baby is born? A checklist for vital baby supplies.

Baby Clothes: Sizes and Quantity

Your little one will be arriving soon, and clothes are extremely fun to shop for! How many newborn sized clothes will you need? The newborn size fits babies from 8-11 pounds, and babies will often outgrow the newborn size very quickly after birth. Save the extremely cute outfits for the 0-3 month size, which will be worn for a longer period of time.

Newborn clothes should be soft and easy to get on and off the baby - "onesies" should have envelope sleeves with a large head opening, for example. Outfits with zippers are much easier than ones with snaps - especially when it is time for a middle of the night diaper change. Sleep sacks are wonderful, as they eliminate the need for a blanket and keep baby warm and cozy throughout the night.

Some pieces of recommended clothing may be omitted from the list below - the onesies, for example, are good for layering in cold weather. A summer baby may not need the extra layer, or may need the onesies and not the extra single-piece outfits.

The following newborn sized clothes should be purchased prior to delivery:

  • 4 sleep sacks (wearable blankets)
  • 10 onesies
  • 6 one-piece daytime outfits
  • 6 one piece pajamas
  • 3 baby hats
  • 5 pairs of baby socks OR 1 pair of crib shoes
  • 1 snow bunting for winter babies

An Infant Car Seat is Necessary

A rear-facing infant car seat is required to take your baby home from the hospital.

A rear-facing infant car seat is required to take your baby home from the hospital.

Infant Car Seat and Travel System

An infant car seat is an absolute must: you will not be allowed to take your baby home from the hospital without one. All infant seats are rear-facing and are intended for babies with an approximate weight of 5-20 pounds.

Take great care if you purchase a used car seat. Car seats have an expiry date, which is generally six years from the date of manufacture. Do not purchase a car seat online or from a garage sale without checking the expiration date and knowing its history.

Many infant seats come as part of a "travel system." This allows the infant seat to snap into a base in the car and into a stroller. Multiple bases may be purchased for each car in the family - this makes installing the car seat extremely simple, since the seat simply snaps into the base. Another benefit of a travel system is the ability to leave a sleeping baby undisturbed. There is no need to wake the baby up or to take him out in the cold weather.

Diapers: Buy the Right Sizes

Every mother hits the nesting phase in late pregnancy and wants to stock up on the necessities. Diapers are a definite necessity, and those who use disposable diapers will want to purchase the correct sizes. Most infants only remain in newborn diapers for a very brief period of time: it is wise to avoid purchasing too many packages of the newborn size, as a baby will outgrow them by the time they are 9-10 pounds (this happens by the age of 1 month for most babies, and some babies are born at a bigger size than newborn diapers will accommodate).

Infants will remain in size one diapers for a month or so, and will spend the majority of their first year in size 2 and size 3 diapers. The amount of time spent in size 2 vs. size 3 will vary by the baby - children vary in weight as they approach the 1 year mark. In general, you can expect your baby to double his or her birth weight by six months, and triple it by a year.

It is better to buy several packages of size 2 and 3 diapers than many packages in the newborn size: babies grow quickly!

In addition to diapers, you will need:

  • Baby wipes
  • Diaper rash ointment (A&D ointment or zinc oxide cream)
  • A diaper bag

Diaper Sizes and Approximate Baby Weight

Diaper SizeInfant WeightApproximate Age


Up to 6 pounds



Up to 10 pounds

Newborn - 1 month of age.

Size 1

8-14 pounds

1-3 months

Size 2

12-18 pounds

3-9 months

Size 3

16-28 pounds

9-18 months

Size 4

22-37 pounds

18-24 months

Baby Furniture Poll

Nursery Furniture and Décor

Crib: A safe baby crib is a must for most families. Families opting to co-sleep may forgo a crib and use a side-car style bassinet alongside the parent's bed or a specially designed soft-sided sleeper in the center of the parent's bed. Most families do opt to use a crib: ensure the crib meets all current safety standards and avoid buying a used crib. Many of the drop-sided cribs were recalled due to safety concerns, so it is best to buy a new crib that meets all modern safety regulations. The crib mattress should fit snugly against the crib bars and should not have any gap. Crib bedding should be limited to a tightly fitting bottom sheet for the first few months, with no pillows, bumpers, or comforters (which present a suffocation hazard).

Changing Table: A changing table makes changing diapers more comfortable, as there is no bending over and changing a little one on the floor. Some people find their changing table very useful, and others find they never really used it - a changing pad on the floor is cheaper and more portable. Many changing tables convert into dressers, which give you more bang for your buck.

Rocking Chair: This optional nursery item is valuable for those who will spend many hours nursing a baby in the middle of the night. On the other hand, many mothers prefer to sit in the family room or have a co-sleeping arrangement, making a rocking chair in the nursery unnecessary. If you purchase one, make sure it is well padded with arms for propping a pillow against for those middle-of-the-night feedings.

Dresser: Think ahead when buying a dresser. Some infant dressers only contain 2-3 drawers and are perfect for those early months. Children grow quickly, however, and a four year old's wardrobe will not fit neatly into a small, 3-drawer dresser. Buy a dresser that will last through your baby's childhood years and not just those fleeting months of infancy.

Storage: There are a lot of baby items to store - extra crib sheets and mattress pads, baby toys, diapers, etc. Use baskets and shelves or a closet organizer to sort out all of baby's linens and diapers, and find a good toy storage system (like stacking bins) for baby's toys.

Diaper Pail: Whether you use disposable diapers or cloth diapers, a pail will be needed to store the dirty ones. A Diaper Genie style system will help contain odors from disposable diapers. Cloth diapers will also need a diaper pail with a liner. Use a mesh liner inside the solid liner, so that the cloth diapers can be gathered up and put into the laundry with less mess.

Baby Toys

Baby toys are extremely cute, but here's the truth: your newborn won't play with toys for a while. The best toys for extremely young babies are wrist or ankle rattles: these soft bands make noise when the baby moves her legs about. Another great newborn toy is an unbreakable mirror, as babies love to look at other people's faces. A newborn baby's favorite "toy" is mom or dad - they need to be held, rocked, and sung to.

As your baby grows, more toys will become appealing. By the age of 3-4 months, many babies like holding (and gumming) baby-safe toys and rattles. A baby gym is an excellent investment at this age.

Breast Pump and Breastfeeding Products

Moms who intend to breastfeed will need to purchase a pump, especially if a return to the workplace is anticipated. Purchase an electric pump, as the manual versions are not as efficient and take much longer to express the same quantity of milk. Medela makes excellent pumps - while pricey, they are well worth the investment.

Other breastfeeding materials include:

  • Lactation pads, to prevent leaks
  • Lanolin ointment
  • Breastmilk storage bags

Newborn Baby Needs

Bottles (Even if You're Breastfeeding)

Always buy a few bottles, even if you intend to breastfeed. A bottle can be used to give expressed breast milk, and it is always good to have one or two on-hand. For formula-fed babies, a good supply of bottles is required.

Baby bottles come in 2 sizes: 4 oz. and 8 oz. Most newborns use the 4 oz. size, as they do not consume as much formula or breast milk as an older baby. Start out with a set of 12 bottles - you can always buy more if needed, and there is no guarantee your baby will like the nipple style of a particular bottle.

A bottle brush and bottle sterilizer are wise purchases - though many parents simply run the bottles through the dishwasher on a high-heat cycle. Bottles should be sterilized prior to the first use: after that, a run through the dishwasher is sufficient.

Burp cloths are another part of the newborn feeding arsenal, and are needed for both formula-fed and breastfed babies. Cloth diapers make excellent burp rags.

Swings and Bouncy Seats

A bouncy seat is a wonderful place to set a tiny baby down for a while. The gentle rocking or bouncing motion it provides is extremely soothing, and the seat keeps the baby slightly inclined to help feeds stay down (reducing spit up). Many bouncy seats also recline completely and can serve as a nap spot for your new little one. Look for a bouncy seat made from washable material.

An infant swing is also a nice addition. Some newborns love them, while others are not impressed. Most babies grow to love swings as they get older, so it is a good purchase for the long run if your newborn is not a fan.

Baby Monitors

Angel Care Monitor: If there is any baby monitor system worth a mention, the Angel Care system is top on the list. This system detects a baby's breathing motions, and will sound an alarm if there is a 20 second cessation in movement. Many parent testimonials exist supporting the life-saving aspects of this simple device. No nursery should be without this system (or one like it).

Video Baby Monitoring Systems: A video monitoring system is a wonderful tool for keeping an eye on a sleeping baby. These systems generally include an infrared system to see your baby in the dark, and some include room temperature monitors and the ability to play a lullaby.

Traditional Baby Monitors: At the very least, a traditional sound-based monitor should be purchased. These monitors will allow a parent to hear whimpers or potential problems, like gagging noises. These monitors often have lights that activate when there is noise coming from the nursery, which makes them useful for parents performing a noisy chore like vacuuming while baby is sleeping upstairs.

How to Bathe a Newborn Baby

Baby Bath Supplies

Baby Bathtub: A small plastic bathtub with a soft, slanted bottom is ideal for bathing your little one. Look for a bathtub that comes with a removable "newborn" netting, which is useful for the early days of sponge-baths (until the umbilical cord stump falls off). Make sure the baby tub has a drain in the bottom.

Towels: You will need 3 soft, hooded towels to dry baby off after a bath.

Washcloths: Purchase 5 soft terrycloth washcloths

Soap and lotion: Get tear-free baby bath for your little one. Buy some lotion at the same time, and start giving your baby massages after bath time to set up a bedtime routine.

First Aid and Health Supplies

A basic health kit should be purchased before baby comes home. The kit should include:

  • A rectal thermometer
  • A nasal aspirator
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Medicine dispenser
  • Soft hairbrush
  • Petroleum jelly

The popular in-the-ear thermometers are not accurate for newborns, so a rectal thermometer is a must-have supply for the first few months. If your baby gets a fever, the pediatrician will want a core body temperature taken rectally. It is a good idea to purchase an ear thermometer or temporal thermometer for use after the age of 3 months.

Baby Wrap or Front Carrier

Babies like to be held a lot. Many new moms wish they had an extra set of hands - investing in a front carrier or baby wrap allows you to carry your new baby while still accomplishing a few tasks. There are many baby carriers on the market, from slings and mei tai carriers to the Moby wrap. Before baby arrives, try on the different carrier styles. Different styles fit different builds better!

Baby Items You Don't Need

The following list of baby items are things you will not need:

  1. A "moses" basket or bassinet. While pretty, this item is not strictly necessary. Baby can sleep in a crib straight from the hospital.
  2. Cotton swabs and alcohol. Doctors do not recommend treating the umbilical cord stump with any alcohol - the current recommendation is to let it dry and fall off naturally.
  3. A wipes warmer. Baby won't care if the wipes are warm or not,and it is simply a waste of money. You won't have it when you're away from home, in any case.
  4. Baby powder. It's fine for mom, but the fine particles can get into a baby's lungs.
  5. Fancy bedding sets - the comforters and bumper pads present a suffocation hazard.

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.


Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on March 07, 2014:

I remember my boys going through the newborn clothes in about a week! They grew so very fast, Zartmom - my friend had a son who was born at 10 pounds. He never wore the newborn sizes!

Carrie from Ohio, USA on February 27, 2014:

Great list! I have two under two and agree wholeheartedly with everything! Like you, i recommend that people focus on clothes for the later stages (I actually recommend 6-12 month stuff) since most people focus on 0-6 month stuff for baby showers.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on April 30, 2013:

Thanks, Kevin - I made a comprehensive list, though there are definitely some things parents might not need until later. A baby hairbrush, for instance, might not be needed for all babies (my babies were both bald at birth)!

Kevin Peter from Global Citizen on April 30, 2013:

The hub is really very interesting. Every thing necessary for a newborn baby is explained well in the hub. Thanks for sharing these information. It would help me a lot.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 18, 2012:

I certainly hope it helps new parents, Lipnancy. We LOVED our sleep sacks, but never used the wipe warmer, haha!

Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on September 18, 2012:

What great information for new parents. I appreciate your personal experience with the items.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 17, 2012:

Congratulations on your son's marriage, greatstuff - maybe there will be grandchildren in your near future! Baby shopping is extremely fun!

Mazlan A from Malaysia on September 17, 2012:

This is a stellar hub with lots of useful and practical information. Altjough we have past this stage, will keep this article for future reference just in case we need it ( My son just got married!) voted up and useful

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 16, 2012:

I think we had about 5 packages of the newborn size for my firstborn son, Teaches12345, and only used one and a half! He moved up to a size 1 very quickly, and was in a size 4 by the age of 1 year. Nolan is much smaller in size and was only in a size 2 at the age of 1 year, so you definitely don't want to buy too many diapers in advance, because babies grow at different rates! Most babies will spend the most time in size 2 and size 3 diapers during their first year.

Dianna Mendez on September 16, 2012:

This is very informative for parents of new babies. All of the items you mentioned are of great interest when deciding what to buy and when. It is funny how diapers can be so confusing -- great chart on this! Voted up.

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 16, 2012:

Congratulations, Pauline! What an exciting time for all of you! In the United States, a pediatrician will only accept a rectal reading for an infant under the age of three months, as it is the most accurate. Once a baby is over the age of three months, axillary temperatures might be accepted, but under the age of three months a fever can signal very dangerous health conditions and the physician will want to get the most accurate reading. Of course, a parent who is uncomfortable with this method could certainly take their baby to the nearest Emergency Department or to the pediatrician, where they will perform the task.

Pauline Davenport from Isle of Man on September 16, 2012:

This couldn't have come at a better time for us. My lovely girl is expecting in February and we are of course all thrilled to bits. Thanks so much for this timely hub leahlefler. The only thing I would say though - I'm not a fan of rectal thermometers at all- an ordinary clinical thermometer under the baby;s arm, held there by cuddling the baby closely, is a method I much prefer. Thanks again. Voted up and across

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 16, 2012:

I tried to think of everything, daisyjae! I did forget a waterproof mattress pad. And crib mattress. But that really goes along with buying a crib in general - our younger son never really slept in the crib. He has a congenital hearing loss and we kept him in a pack-and-play in our bedroom because he would panic when it was dark. Now he sleeps in his own room, of course - but he never really slept in a nursery at all! My older son did, though.

daisyjae from Canada on September 16, 2012:

This is very thorough. I can't think of a thing you have missed. You really do need a lot for babies!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 16, 2012:

Oh, thanks Hyphenbird! That is Nolan, my youngest son. He is five now, and has grown a lot from those early days!

Leah Lefler (author) from Western New York on September 16, 2012:

We bought some things we never used with my first son, Hyphenbird. We had no idea what to buy and I just went crazy at Babies R Us. I did buy a wipe warmer, and it never left the box! I also bought a changing table that we never used, because we have a tri-level house and it was so much easier to change him in the room we were in. Another thing we never used was the bottle warmer. It never even left the box - I breastfed my babies and never needed it. We were a lot more practical by the time my second son was born - we just bought diapers (we had the other necessary clothes and equipment from my firstborn, since they're only 20 months apart).

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on September 16, 2012:

I forgot to tell you how much I love the baby pictures. You have a gorgeous family and the love and gentleness you feel for them is obvious.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on September 16, 2012:

Many of these items never existed when I was a new mother. As a grandmother though, I remember some of them. We never used a changing table or things like a diaper genie, wipe warmer and all that. My grandson was surprise gift so we scrambled to have what we need ed and kind of played it by ear. Then he arrived early and that was a whole other issue. You are so right about diapers and clothing. Stick with the basics and save money as well as frustration. You have written another excellent and wonderfully useful article.