The first few weeks after baby arrives will be the busiest in your life. So it’s good to plan early and shop for baby essentials at least a month before your due date. But what do you buy? Any baby resource guide will give you pages of ideas. But we’ve gone a step further to include pointers and suggestions from parents who have already been there and done that.
- Three or four side-tying or side-button shirts for use before the cord drops.
- Six to eight one-piece bodysuits that snap-close at the crotch.
- Six to eight full sleeping suits/pajamas.
- Two or three “dress-up” clothes for bringing baby out.
- Two or three pairs of mittens and booties/socks to keep baby warm and stop him from scratching himself.
- One cap or hat to protect baby from the sun.
- One jacket or sweater for rainy/cold days or long waits in air-conditioned hospital waiting rooms.
How to choose baby clothing
Material: Clothing should generally be soft, breathable and comfortable with fuss-free openings to allow for easy diaper-changing. Cotton is great – baby will not get too sweaty or scratchy in warm weather, plus it’s easy to wash and wear. You may want to consider removing tags or labels that may irritate sensitive areas like neck folds. For the same reason, look for finished seams when buying baby clothes so that there are no rough parts, and avoid zippers as these can pinch tender baby skin.
Type: One-piece suits, usually called “onesies,” can make dressing (and laundry) much simpler. Look for bodysuits with snaps under the crotch to prevent them from riding up. Ensure that head and leg openings are wide. A few roomy shirts with side snaps will prevent irritation to baby’s cord while it’s still intact.
Size: Newborn-size clothes (usually marked 0 – 3) rarely last more than three months so think about buying big. This also helps if you end up having a larger-than-expected baby. But give in to one or two too-cute-to-resist newborn-size outfits just for the sake of dressing your little angel up.
Quantity: Though things can get messy with newborns, you may not need to buy dozens of clothes. Our checklist suggests a useful number, but how many clothes you really need depends on how frequently you do your laundry.
Little details: Look for flame-retardant clothing and always prioritize function over fashion. Fancy bows and ribbons or animal-shaped buttons are adorable but also pose a choking or strangulation hazard. Also, choose shirts or tees that button down the front as babies do not like having clothes pulled over their heads. It may make more practical sense to buy unisex clothes (not just blue or pink) if you plan to have another child in the near future. Whenever possible, wash new clothes before using them. This not only ensures that they are clean but also softens the material. Never use too much detergent when washing baby clothes, as detergent residue can cause serious skin problems.
Crib & Bedding
- Sturdy baby cot.
- Firm, baby-safe mattress.
- Thin bumper pads that can be safely secured to the crib.
- One or two waterproof mattress covers. Some hospital pharmacies sell disposable waterproof squares.
- Two or three fitted bed sheets to fit mattress size.
- Two or three large cotton blankets.
- Three or four receiving blankets – these also double as burp cloths!
- If buying pillows or bolsters, avoid using them till baby is older.
Please see the article on Nursery Safety for more crib and bedding tips.
If you are breastfeeding:
- Breast pump. A manual pump may be handy but an electrical pump is usually faster.
- Milk storage containers (you will need to sterilize them before each use).
- It is a good idea to have some bottles on hand even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively.
If you are bottle-feeding:
- At least three or four 120ml (4oz) feeding bottles with newborn/small size nipples.
- At least three or four 240ml (8oz) feeding bottles (change nipples according to baby’s age).
- Feeding bottle sterilizer and tongs. A six-bottle sterilizer may be ideal.
- Bottle and nipple brush.
- A few tins of infant formula. Be sure to check the expiry date.
Other feeding essentials:
- Three or four cotton bibs.
- Three or four burp cloths or towels.
If you are using cloth nappies:
- Two to three dozen cotton nappies.
- For quick clean-ups, at least three Velcro waterproof underpants.
If you are using disposable diapers:
- One or two packs of newborn-sized diapers.
Other diapering essentials:
- Diaper-changing pad, lined with a towel to prevent baby from feeling cold.
- Covered pail or trashcan for soiled diapers until they are cleaned or thrown away.
- Vaseline, barrier, or diaper rash cream.
- Washcloths for cleaning baby’s bottom.
- Baby wipes (unscented just in case baby is sensitive to fragrance).
- Baby powder (optional).
Suggestions on diapers and diaper-changing
Even parents who swear against disposable diapers may later find them extremely handy, especially for use at night or while traveling. But while disposables reduce the hassle of diaper washing, exercise care towards how many you buy. The most common mistake new parents make is purchasing a cupboard load of diapers only to find that their newborn is larger than average or that particular brand gives him diaper rash.
However, living with a newborn means constant diaper-changing, so you also need to be prepared. Considering that most newborns go through about 12 diapers a day, buy just enough to last you the first week. Or buy a packet each from two different brands to see which suits baby better. You can always buy more later. Buy one packet of medium-sized diapers too, just in case–it won’t be a waste because baby will grow very quickly. Remember, hospitals usually provide maternity gift baskets or hampers containing diaper samples. These can be packed conveniently into a diaper bag when you have to bring baby out.
- Plastic baby bathtub. You may delay buying one if you have a large dishpan that will fit into your sink or if you take baby into the bath with you.
- About five wash cloths for baby’s face/body (not bottom). These may also be used for topping and tailing.
- Three or four large cotton bath towels. Experienced moms swear by hooded terry towels for added convenience.
- Baby cleanser and shampoo.
- Baby lotion or moisturizer.
- Baby oil or baby-safe massage oil.
- Soft-bristled hair brush.
- Nail clippers.
- Cotton buds.
Getting out and about
- Car seat.
- Baby sling or sarong to keep your hands free and baby close to the warmth of your chest.
- Stroller that reclines to allow baby to lie flat.
Tips for buying traveling equipment
A car seat is essential as you will need it to bring baby home from the hospital. Look for one that is designed for infants (you can upgrade later as your child grows).
A stroller does not seem like an immediate necessity for a newborn, but some parents may feel handicapped without it. Babies shouldn’t be propped up until they develop strong neck muscles (at about three months), so always choose a stroller that reclines fully. Other musts are wide and stable wheels, adjustable straps and seat belt, as well as smooth (try it with one hand) steering.
Optional but good to have items
- Baby thermometer (an ear thermometer is easiest with cranky infants).
- Medicine syringe or spoon.
- Bouncer with seat belt.
Mommy’s little helpers
While you shop for baby, don’t forget to be kind to yourself too. You may find the following very helpful:
- A good nightlight helps with night-time diaper changes. Bright lights may over-stimulate baby, leaving him wide awake while you are desperate to catch some sleep.
- If you can afford it, a low, diaper-changing table is kind to your back and nice to have, especially if it includes handy shelving or pockets for wipes, clean diapers, safety pins and so on.
- A baby monitor to help you keep tabs on baby in his part of the house while you cook or work in another.
- Music box to soothe baby (and you) to sleep.
- A breast-pump set complete with bag if you want to pump milk at work.
- A nursing pillow (optional) to ease pressure on your back
- Nursing bras (buy them one cup larger than your pregnant bra size).
- Disposable or washable breast pads. Get high quality ones as leaking milk can easily drench thinner pads and cause an embarrassing patch on your blouse.
- A sturdy diaper bag (preferably backpack-style) with easy-reach pockets for things like milk bottles and baby wipes.
- Maxi pads (overnight quality) to handle heavy post labor discharge (lochia).