Are you getting ready to have your first baby and overwhelmed with all the supplies you need to buy? Cut through all of the clutter and learn the 9 newborn essentials that you NEED to care for a newborn.
Like many of you, when I was expecting my first child I was so excited to start shopping. I registered, bought clothes, and gathered all the supplies I thought I needed.
But, once the baby came, I started to realize there were a few items I just couldn’t live without and more than a few items that basically just sat there and I hardly every used them.
When I had my 5th baby, who came along AFTER we got rid of a lot of the baby stage items, I shopped smarter. My list was much shorter because I knew what I couldn’t live without.
Then again with baby #6. Who also came along after we had given away baby supplies. I tried to do without some of the newborn essentials I list below and ended up running out and getting them anyway.
So, here are the 9 newborn essentials that I think are the MOST important to get. Pretty much everything else is extra- babies don’t really need as much as you think!
9 Essential Items for Newborns- Supplies You Need
So this is a no brainer, right. I mean you can’t even leave the hospital without a car seat.
For my first son, we had a infant carrier car seat. And it was helpful and great. I used it for his next 2 brothers too.
But then a strap broke and when it came to deciding between a infant car seat or a convertible car seat, I decided to go with the convertible- safety wise it was the same but savings was much bigger.
Most babies will outgrow their carriers pretty quickly. Or they will get too heavy to be lugging around. So either you can buy an infant car seat and then a second car seat once they outgrow it. Or you can just buy one that fits all ages and stages.
I won’t make a recommendation on brands since it’s something every parent needs to research and make a decision on, but for my last 3 babies we have bought a seat suitable for ages birth-booster. Basically they used (or will use) the same seat until they move into a booster seat.
The Boppy pillow is one of my most used newborn items. It came to the hospital with me and I used it all through the first year for all of my babies. It’s the ONE item I recommend every new mom get and it’s almost always what I get for a baby shower gift.
If you are breastfeeding, this pillow is indispensable. It helps support the baby and keep him right at the level you need. But you can totally use it if you are bottle feeding as well.
The Boppy is great for laying the baby on, so they aren’t laying flat on their back- which is great for setting them down after eating to prevent spit up.
I also use it for tummy time with newborns. My newborns had strong rooting reflexes and if I put them on the floor on their belly they’d end up eating the floor and getting very mad. But once they had some head control, I could place them on their bellies with the Boppy under the chest and it make tummy time MUCH more enjoyable for all and helped with muscle development.
It’s also great for placing around babies who are just learning to sit up. Place it around them so that if they fall backwards or to the side they land on it instead of the floor.
They make all kinds of receiving blankets, from plain to fancy. But the ones I am talking about here are the inexpensive, cotton receiving blankets. Similar to the one you will likely bring home from the hospital.
These lightweight blankets are pretty much on my shoulder for the first 6 months of life at all times.
They just have so many uses! Like:
- burp clothes
- light weight covering for sun or cold
- breastfeeding cover
- changing pad
- play mat
My last 2 kids also got very attached to their blankets and carried them everywhere. And since I had a ton, I never had to worry about losing a one of a kind blanket.
Another no brainer, right? Yes, all kids need clothes. But when it comes to newborns don’t go overboard before the baby is born.
One- You never know how big or small your baby will be. You may stock up on newborn size clothes and have a 10lb baby that barely fits them. Or you could end up with a premie and 0-3 month clothes just won’t work.
Also take into account the season you baby will be born in. I have 4 summer babies, born in the end of July and August. They pretty much just lived in onesies. It was too hot for much else.
I will make one recommendation for clothes thought. The one item of clothing I could NOT live without in the newborn stage was gowns.
Baby gowns basically look like a bag…or like a one piece romper on the top and open at the bottom. But they are a lifesaver- or a sanity saver- at night during the newborn stage.
In case you didn’t know, newborns don’t sleep great. They eat during the night. AND they poop and pee through the night. Since you want to make sure they know night is night and not time to be up and play, it’s best to keep it dark at night. And let me tell you, snapping a zillion snaps on a wiggly newborn in the middle of the night in the dark when you are half a sleep is not fun!
Gowns solve this problem and make middle of the night diaper changes quick and easy.
Sleepers with zippers are another great option, but the gowns are the easiest thing ever!
Diapers & Wipes
Diapers might be one of the more expensive parts of raising a newborn, but they are definitely on the newborn essentials list.
Newborns can go through 10-15 diapers a day. And that adds up quick!
If you are registering or have people asking about gifts, sure a wipe warmer or diaper pail may sound nice, but my advice is to ask for diapers. In various sizes. Or gift cards for diapers and wipes.
Whether you choose disposable diapers or cloth diapers, this is one item that you will need and need a lot of during the first year.
Crib/Bassinet/Pack n’ Play
Basically, a place for the baby to sleep.
My first 5 slept in a pack n’ play with bassinet insert for the first few months and then a crib. #6 slept entirely in a pack n’ play.
It doesn’t really matter what you get, you just need a safe place for the baby to sleep. Even if you plan on co-sleeping, this is still an item I think all new parents should get.
Sometimes you just need a place to set the baby where you know they are totally safe. To take a shower. To take a break. Whatever.
Related: How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep
This is one of those things I thought I could live without, and then realized I couldn’t.
I have 6 kids. Lots of dogs and cats. Hardwood floors.
And like many of you, life can get busy and hectic. A bouncy chair or seat is a lifesaver when you just need to put the baby down when they are awake.
A portable place to set the baby, so you can do other things, but still have them in the room with you.
Such a big help for making dinner, taking a shower, sitting outside, or even helping to get them to sleep. Bouncing is a great way to soothe a newborn baby too!
If you happened to opt for a infant carrier car seat, that can take the place of this item.
Baby Fingernail Clippers
This might sound like a small thing, but believe me, cutting a newborn’s nails is no small feat.
Baby finger nail clippers, the small clippers with a large end for better holding, is something you will use for years. They make cutting nails a little less stressful and so much easier than trying to use large, adult sized clippers. Seriously, the best $2 every spent.
There are plenty of other baby toiletry items such as a soft brush and nasal aspirator. I actually got both of these items from the hospital. Brushes hardly ever got used and the hospital aspirator is ten times better than any you could buy from a store or amazon.
This might also seem like a small thing, but I tried to go without, and I ended up getting one instead.
Newborn babies are small, wiggly, and slippery when wet. Which makes bathing without some kind of aid really hard.
You don’t even have to get a whole bath tub, even just a infant bath sponge can be super helpful- and very inexpensive. I used one of those for one of my babies and it worked great!
In terms of baby tubs, I like the ones with a sling/hammock like insert or a infant cradle type.
I wouldn’t go all out, an inexpensive one works just fine, but you definitely want something to help support the baby especially in the newborn stage.
You don’t need hooded infant towels. You can use any old towel to dry the baby!
Other Newborn Supplies to Consider
You probably noticed a couple things missing from my list. Things you might have thought were essential for newborns. Below are the items that are a little in the gray area. For some parents they are a must, for others they are extra.
I am a minimalist when it comes to supplies. I did have a diaper bag for my first, because I thought it was essential. But, I didn’t really use it. Instead I just used my purse.
I’d stick a few diapers, wipes, and maybe a onesie in my purse and go.
Depending on your lifestyle, this may not work for you. If you are bottle feeding, you may need to carry more. If you like to be gone all day often, a diaper bag may be more your style.
Honestly, when we went out for longer, I’d just keep extra supplies in the car for just in case and stuck the rest in my purse.
This is another one of those personal decisions and whether you need a carrier or not will depend on you and your baby.
As a mom of many, a sling was a life saver for me. It allowed me to hold a newborn AND have my hands free to care for my older children. It also made going to the grocery store with 3 kids under 4 manageable.
Some moms would rather just use a infant car seat than wear their baby. And some babies HATE to be worn!
Evaluate your needs and wishes and decide if you need a carrier and why kind works best for you.
These can definitely be helpful and provide a sense of safety.
If you live in a large house or spent time outside while baby is sleeping, a baby monitor is probably something you should get. Sames goes for if you are a heavy sleeper.
It really just depends on you, your home, and your lifestyle.
Baby Soap/Lotion/Diaper Cream
I actually don’t believe in soap for babies. I turn down baths in the hospital and I don’t use soap in the newborn stage at all. Actually, my youngest son was at least 2 before I ever used soap on him.
I just don’t think that it’s good to put that stuff on their skin.
If I need lotion or baby has a diaper rash, I use coconut oil for that. When they are older I use a homemade Calendula salve.
Pacifiers can be a wonderful way to calm a newborn. 5 out of 6 of my babies used them. Some took one early- like in the hospital (NICU) early and some not until a few weeks or a month old.
But it’s definitely not a must have for a newborn.
Take some time to decide on whether or not you will give your baby a pacifier, and if the answer is yes, grab a couple.
If you plan on bottle feeding, then yes this is an essential newborn item.
If you plan on breastfeeding, well wait and see if you need them.
I breastfed all 6 of my babies. I only need bottles for my firstborn because I had planned on returning to work.
And that’s about it. If its not on this list, you likely don’t need it.
There are so many items marketed toward new moms and dads that it’s hard to weed out what are actual essentials for newborns and what’s just nice to have. So whether you are on a budget or just don’t want a lot of clutter, get these essential newborn items and you will be good to go!