Crib? Clothes? Feeding gear? What are the most important things you need to buy for your baby?
Family and friends will always give their two cents on what they deem as the “best of the best,” but are they right?
Experienced Mommy has compiled an inventory of baby essentials to allow you to make the right decision regarding what you will need for your little one!
Every crib in the United States and Canada is required to meet certain safety standards. Thus, you can spend $500 or $5,000 on this baby essential and the quality will be virtually the same. However, depending on your preferences, you can invest in a convertible crib that may give you a bit more bang for your buck!
Remember to always say no to used sleeping supplies. This is a location that, at times, you will leave your beautiful baby unattended. Thus, make the investment in your child’s safety!
Surprisingly, the crib mattress will likely cost you more than the actual crib! Unlike adults, your main prerogative needs to be purchasing a firm mattress. This is another key step in preventing SIDS. Other necessary qualities include a waterproof cover and finding a mattress that matches the interior dimensions of the crib. Lastly, this is another item that should be purchased new.
A bassinet is a fantastic option for parents with limited space and for mothers who intend to breastfeed. This furniture piece can be placed directly next to your bed, allowing for easy access throughout the night.
Something to note — if you end up having a bigger baby, this item will likely only last you a few weeks. What many people do not realize is that certain types of playpens can double as a bassinet. This can give your purchase a little more longevity and your newborn a bit more space.
Changing tables are essential until your baby reaches the magical milestone of potty training. Thus, you want to find an option that will potentially accommodate your baby’s size for a few years. Also, if your space is limited, this furniture piece can also double as a mini dresser. Look for options that fit your needs!
Changing Table Supplies
Diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and a diaper cream applicator are all tools you will use daily at your changing station! Moreover, a diaper wipe holder can be helpful for the quick attainment of wipes, but it is not quite as necessary.
A changing table pad is another wonderful investment. This item can be flat or curved, but either way, it ensures that your baby does not bonk their head every time you lay them down to swap out their dirty diapers! Just make sure to double-check the interior dimensions of the table in order to find a pad that fits snuggly in the space.
PRO TIP: Despite our valiant efforts, many times diaper changes do not go as planned. To counter this, you can purchase puppy pads and lay them out on your changing pad. This guarantees that if a big mess occurs, you have an easy clean-up!
Within your baby’s first year of life, you will likely conduct over 2000 diaper changes! Thus, a sturdy and capable diaper pail is extremely important! Key features include the ability to hold in the smells from your baby’s stinky messes and the option for affordable diaper pail bags. Brands that produce deodorized bags can be a nose saver, especially once your baby starts eating solid foods!
If you do not invest in a dual-purpose changing table or you do not have a closet with shelving built-in, it is important to buy a dresser to store the many clothing items, linens, and other supplies that you will have for baby.
According to American safety standards, the only linens that you will need within the first year of your baby’s life are the fitted crib and bassinet sheets. It is best to have two or three of these available for the many moments of spit-up that will occur in the first few months. Additionally, for those parents who purchase a changing table pad, you may also want to buy fitted covers for this item as well.
Moreover, baby blankets are fantastic for tummy time and when you are snuggled up on the sofa. However, they should never be used while your little one is sleeping, as they could pose a suffocation hazard.
Rocker / Glider
This may be your most used piece of furniture in the next few months. Having a place to comfortably feed your little one and then rock them to sleep can be a lifesaver, especially for parents with a fussy or colicky baby!
Look for features that are most important to you — some will rock, others will swivel and many even recline! Moreover, while it may sound ridiculous, some also have a weight limit. This is important to note because when your hubby goes to rock your baby to sleep, he could break the item when he goes to rock baby!
Lastly, if you are purchasing online without first taking it for a spin, make sure to determine the height of the back support. Taller moms may be a bit uncomfortable in some of the shorter-backed chairs.
This is a great device to drown out background noise and lull your baby to sleep. While not necessary for all infants, some parents find it to be the only way for their baby to get some Zzz’s!
For the moments that your wee babe is sleeping soundly in the nursery, a baby monitor can give you peace of mind that they are resting safely. These devices can greatly range in price so talk to your significant other about your needs.
Do you want the capability to zoom in and adjust the camera remotely? How about the option of streaming the video feed through your phone? These are some of the more fancy features. However, what is most important is extended battery life, long-range capabilities, and ample lighting in the dark!
This is a great tool to have on hand for when your baby gets sick! The key attribute to look for in a humidifier that produces a cool mist. While it may seem ideal to purchase one that has a warmer, this can inadvertently increase the temperature of the room, increasing the risk of SIDS.
Feeding Essentials for Formula Feeding
Just like a snowflake, no two bottle brands are the same. Furthermore, just because you think the item is spectacular, does not mean your baby will feel the same way. Thus, before you start stocking up on one specific type, it is good to get a small sampling of options available on the market. This will allow your baby to figure out which bottle and nipple are best for them!
Our favorite feature in this item is a vent system to prevent your baby from swallowing too much air. This can help to lessen the amount that they spit up as well as the occurrence of acid reflux!
Additionally, in case you didn’t know, bottle nipples can come in various shapes, sizes and they have different flow rates. For breastfeeding moms, the bell-shaped nipple tends to mirror that of the breast best. However, there are also orthodontic and flat-topped varieties. Flow rate is an important feature as well. Newborns will want the slowest flow rate to ensure they are not drowning in milk.
Conversely, as your child gets older, you may notice them becoming agitated during feeds, sucking harder, and potentially ending a feeding session early despite being hungry. This is a sign to upgrade to a greater flow!
PRO TIP: Once you establish their preferred bottle, consider buying a stockpile of these baby essentials so that can get you through a few days without washing! There is nothing worse than realizing that you are out of clean bottles the moment your baby starts screaming for one!
Bottle Cleaning Supplies
A bottle brush and drying rack will make your regular washing sessions much easier! Additionally, the drying rack allows the bottle pieces to dry faster than just laying them on a dishtowel.
It is also ideal to have a handful of sterilization bags on hand for when you purchase new items. You will just add a little water, toss in the item and then throw it in the microwave.
In the first few months of life, your baby will spit up A LOT. Purchasing large, soft and durable burp cloths is essential for when feeding or on the go! Most importantly, you want these items to be absorbent so look for cotton chenille varieties!
Even if you intend to breastfeed, it is good to have at least one canister of formula on hand, just in case you need it. Brand name formulas are more expensive, but they can make a difference in the nutritional benefits that your child receives. Talk to your future pediatrician to see what they recommend.
Feeding Essentials for Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Pump & Accessories
There is a lot to consider with this item. Pumps can be manual or electric, they can be wired, rechargeable, or portable and they can range from under a hundred to a couple of thousand dollars. If you intend to breastfeed, it is important to contemplate if you want the option to pump both breasts at once, the freedom to pump anywhere, or the luxury of wearing the pump in a concealed fashion.
Keep in mind that if you get a pump that requires an outlet in order to work, you will be tethered to a certain section of the room. These are the most affordable options, but they are less convenient. Rechargeable varieties are a step up and allow you some movement, but your breasts will still be out while pumping. Finally, the Mercedes Benz of pumps is the one that is wearable! These are exceptionally more expensive, BUT you slip them in your bra and no one’s the wiser! TALK ABOUT CONVENIENCE!
Another thing to note — many insurance companies provide expecting moms with this baby essential! Just call your provider and see if this is an item available to you and what products they offer under your plan.
Finally, just like the bottles, having an arsenal of extra attachments can be very convenient. This means less frequent washing and sterilizing of the parts required to pump. When you think about how many times you will conduct this activity daily, spending a little extra on supplies can be worth the money!
Breastmilk Storage Bags
These are essential for storing extra milk properly in the fridge and freezer. They also allow you to easily decipher when the milk was expressed. There are a variety of brands and finding the option that goes with your pump can save you some washing time. Why, you may ask? Many brands create storage bags that fit snugly within the bottle that attaches to the pump! This means one less item that you will have to wash!
While not necessary, this item is recommended! Expressed breast milk tends to separate over time when stored in the refrigerator or freezer. This is normal. You have the option to shake it up and feed it directly to your baby, but just like with soup, it tends to mix back together more effectively when it is heated.
A bottle warmer is also many times safer than the microwave or stovetop for heating because you can better control the time and temperature that the bottle is exposed to the heat source.
A good nursing pillow is a necessary tool when it comes to breastfeeding! Support is the key feature to look for in this item! Look for options that wrap around your belly to give your baby a sturdy base throughout each feed.
Nursing Gear for Mom
This is technically not for baby, but you will need the proper clothes to accommodate them during feeding sessions throughout the day. Make sure to purchase nursing tops and bras as well as something to cover up with when out and about!
Other supplies include nipple cream, breast therapy packs, and nursing pads to prevent the spread of leaks. These supplies will keep you more comfortable throughout this selfless process.
Feeding Essentials for Solid Foods
There are an array of high chairs on the market. Thus, this can be another daunting product to research. Look for chairs that are mobile, convertible, easy to clean, and utilize a five-point harness. Space can also be a factor. Thus, if you live in a small home, try finding collapsible varieties that allow for better storage and portability.
Bibs, bowls, cups, and silverware are all fantastic supplies to have on hand for when your baby starts on solid foods. This may seem like a ways off, but babies can start the transition as early as four months old.
Baby Bathtime Essentials
The purpose of this item is to provide you with a safe place to bathe your child without the worry of their head slipping under the water. Basic is sometimes best, and this mantra applies to this item. They will outgrow an infant basin quickly so don’t waste money on a fancy, bubbly tub!
Baby shampoo, body wash, talcum powder, and Aquaphor are all helpful products to have on hand. With baby lotion, it is best to have a selection in case your little one does not react well to your first choice.
Towels & Washcloths
Again, simplicity is ideal with these items. You can buy the cutesy towels for an infant that will last you a few months, or you can buy more durable options that provide you with long-term use! Basic linens for bath time are best. Also, the adorable robe is great for a photo op, but the likelihood of you using it often is slim to none. As hard as it can be, save your money and get items that will last!
Health and Wellness Essentials
A thermometer is at the top of our baby essentials list! It is an item that you never want to have to use, but a good parent should always have it on hand in case of an emergency. You can choose between an oral, rectal, or infrared thermometer — all will give you an accurate read, but it is important to know how to decipher the temperature based on how you take it.
According to health professionals, a baby’s normal temperature can range from 97 degrees, all the way up to 100.3 degrees. A rectal temperature is always going to be the most accurate, but it is also up to 1 degree above the average oral temperature of 98.6 degrees that most people use. Therefore, when determining their actual temperature, subtract one degree to find out how far they are from average. This will be the case for an ear reading as well.
Conversely, if you take your baby’s temperature via their armpit or forehead, this is normally a degree below the norm, so you would add a degree for an accurate read. Finally, no matter what the reading, if you suspect that your baby has a temperature before reaching their three-month mark, make a point to call their pediatrician to confirm how to proceed.
Just like the thermometer, having medications like Baby Tylenol and Baby Benadryl in your home can be a lifesaver, literally. However, always consult their physician first and make sure to determine the appropriate dosing.
Your baby is about to FINALLY have room to stretch and move! Unfortunately, with this ability comes the risk of them scratching up their face. Cutting your baby’s nails regularly is extremely important in preventing this issue.
Car Seat & Base
The car seat is an item that should ALWAYS be purchased new. This product ensures that in the unfortunate event you were to get in a car crash, your baby would remain unscathed. Key features include impact protection, a no-rethread harness, anti-rebound bars, and portability.
In case you didn’t know, it is highly likely that you will purchase two of these items in the first year of your baby’s life. The first will be an infant car seat. This option is lightweight, portable, and is designed to slide directly into a stroller. This is an optimal feature if you ever intend to leave the house with your little one.
Once your child reaches the max height OR weight for the seat, then you can transition to a convertible car seat. This product is NOT portable. It will become a permanent feature in your vehicle until your child can safely ride without a car seat. This normally occurs when they reach 80 pounds and 4 feet 9 inches tall (around eight years old).
PRO TIP: It is always best to have a professional inspect your car seat prior to use. Moreover, car seats actually expire. Thus, check the best buy date and register the seat immediately after purchase. This will ensure that you get timely updates on potential recalls.
SAFETY TIP: A car seat base is designed to keep the car seat positioned at a particular level. This is extremely important because this ensures that your baby is also positioned at a certain angle. Without this item, the car seat is NOT considered a safe place for your baby to sleep. Remember that it is always recommended that your baby sleeps on a flat surface on their back. Otherwise, positional asphyxia can occur and they can suffocate.
If you intend to use the stroller while your baby is unable to lift their head, then consider purchasing one that is compatible with your car seat. Many times manufacturers will sell you the car seat and the stroller for a reduced price if you buy them as a bundle.
However, when looking for this product, the most important features are storage, convertibility, and use-ability. In other words, once your little one is out of the car seat, you want it to be easily switched over to a big kid stroller.
Secondly, think about your activity level. There are so many different varieties of strollers on the market. Some are best made for if you are walking around the mall while others are designed for the mom who loves to run. Figure out what you will need this transportation device for and purchase one that fits your specific needs!
A diaper bag can range from a simple backpack to an intricate satchel with pockets and pouches galore! Most moms can manage without too many bells and whistles, but it is nice to have a built-in insulated area if you intend to transport pre-made bottles. Otherwise, the only truly essential quality you need in a diaper bag is one with fabric that is easily cleaned.
PRO TIP: If you and your spouse are constantly on the go, consider purchasing two diaper bags and storing one in each vehicle. This guarantees an arsenal of supplies and that you are always prepared!
Essential Baby Clothes
Clothes: Months 0 – 6
The top items to have when your baby arrives are a collection of onesies, kimono tops, pants, sleeping gowns, socks, mittens, and beanie hats. It is best to find clothing options with built-in mittens to ensure that your baby can’t slip out of them easily. This will prevent your little one from scratching up their face.
Moreover, depending on when you deliver, you may also need to purchase a coat or fleece zipper onesies. In addition, swaddles are essential for getting your baby to sleep. You can buy the muslin sheets to wrap them in or there are swaddle outfits that you can purchase as well.
PRO TIP: Wait to see what you get at your baby shower if you have one. Clothes are the most popular gift choice, so wait until closer to your due date to fill in the wardrobe gaps.
Clothes: 6 Months & Beyond
This is the time frame where you can be a little more creative with your baby’s clothes! Skirts, jackets, vests, shorts, shirts, and pajamas are essential to add to the mix. Furthermore, once you hit month eight, you can consider purchasing baby shoes! Prior to this point, those pint-size sneakers are not worth the money. However, as they begin walking, it is good to get them accustomed to footwear.
Play Yard, Play Mat & Accessories
You want to ensure a safe place for your baby to play! A playpen is a great investment that will last you for a few years. It is always a good idea to buy playpen sheets as well in order to keep the base clean. Additionally, a mat for tummy time and playtime can help your kids stay clean no matter where the fun occurs!
The purpose of toys for kids under the age of one is to engage their senses. You want age-appropriate toys that expose them to sounds, shapes, colors, and various textures. Additionally, look for options that are tailored for your baby’s age.
Just like with the bottles, you won’t know what pacifier your baby prefers until he or she gets the chance to try out their options. Therefore, buy a small variety until you can determine what the best choice is for them. Most hospitals recommend or give the Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier, but there are also orthodontic and MAM versions.
Additionally, do not forget to grab some pacifier clips to keep those ever-essential accessories clean and in your possession. Also, remember that the goal is to get established with breastfeeding before starting pacifier use. Otherwise, there is a chance that your baby will experience nipple confusion.
Something to note — while lactation specialists are many times not fans of pacifiers, they are one of the recommended tools for preventing SIDS.
While you won’t need this at the start, some infants start teething before the four-month mark. This is quite the milestone for everyone and having this baby essential on hand to soothe your baby’s pain immediately is paramount! After purchase, wash these items and throw them in the freezer! That way you are ready to go when those pearly whites begin to emerge!
Ultimate Baby Essentials List
✓ CRIB MATTRESS
✓ CHANGING TABLE
✓ DIAPERS, WIPES, and CREAM
✓ DIAPER PAIL
✓ BABY LINENS
✓ ROCKER / GLIDER
✓ NOISE MACHINE
✓ BABY MONITOR
✓ BOTTLE CLEANING SUPPLIES
✓ BURP CLOTHS
✓ BREASTFEEDING PUMP AND ACCESSORIES
✓ BREASTMILK STORAGE BAGS
✓ BOTTLE WARMER
✓ NURSING PILLOW
✓ NURSING GEAR FOR MOM
✓ HIGH CHAIR
✓ FEEDING UTENSILS
✓ BABY TUB
✓ BATH PRODUCTS
✓ TOWELS AND WASHCLOTHS
✓ NAIL CLIPPERS
✓ CAR SEAT AND BASE
✓ CLOTHES 0-6 MONTHS
✓ CLOTHES 6+ MONTHS
✓ PLAY YARD
✓ BABY TOYS
Frequently Asked Questions — Baby Essentials Checklist
When should I start shopping for my baby?
Purchasing baby essentials is best done after the first trimester. Many couples like to wait until they determine the sex of the baby to give them a better idea of what they want and need. This can happen with a blood test in the first trimester or at your five-month check-up.
Additionally, don’t forget to start stocking up on diapers early! Get an array of sizes, limiting the number of newborn diapers and focusing more on sizes one and up!
Is there a better time of year to shop for baby?
Yes! November and December are great for end-of-year sales, but any holiday is a good time to bargain shop. Look for sales each month and sign up for email alerts at baby supply companies. This can ensure that you get the best bang for your buck when buying baby essentials!
Baby Essentials Wrap Up
There is a LOT to buy for such a little being!
Consider having a baby shower and try to start shopping early so that you can spread out the cost.
If you need a place to start your registry or shopping list, focus on the nursery. Newborns sleep up to eighteen hours each day, so creating a safe sleeping space is your number one priority!
It is important to remember that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as their mom and dad for at least the first six months, if not the first year. This is a crucial step in preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Determine how much space you have available in the master bedroom and whether you want to purchase a bassinet, crib, or both.
And finally, resist the urge to buy the frou-frou, cutesy baby stuff! While adorable, items like newborn shoes, tiny robes, Boogey wipes, a wipe warmer, and pricey, designer baby clothes are a waste of money.
Focus on baby essentials that are necessary and work to find options that will provide you with long-term use.