As a soon-to-be mom of four, I have a good handle on baby essentials. Sure, it’s nice to have tons of baby items to pick and choose from for every occasion, but it’s also good to know about basic baby essentials. These will come in handy when you are registering for your baby shower, have limited room for baby stuff or are on child No. 2 or 3 (or 4 like me!) and got rid of a lot of your old baby stuff.
If you are expecting and want to make sure you have the basic baby essentials ready for bringing home a newborn, check out my list of 20 Baby Must-Haves:
Pack and Play and mattress: Having a pack and play with a built in changing station is awesome, especially if your home has more than one level. That way, you can change a diaper or let baby nap downstairs using the pack and play instead of venturing up to the nursery constantly. As you baby gets older and you travel, he/she may sleep overnight in a pack and play. I highly recommend getting a mattress for your pack and play to increase the comfort and possibly get your baby to sleep better out of the crib.
Baby Monitor: When your baby sleeps is when you’ll be doing all the other things you need to get done (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) or possibly sleeping yourself if you’re lucky. A monitor is the best way to be productive while still being reassured your baby is sleeping soundly.
Burp Cloths: Whether your baby is breastfed or bottle fed, he/she still needs to burp after feedings. Make sure you have several burp cloths handy around your house for feedings. Reflux babies spit up often, but even babies without reflux spit up when too much air is trapped inside their bellies.
Backpack Diaper Bag: You’ll need some sort of diaper bag to house all your baby’s essentials for when you are on the go. Though I’ve had a couple styles over the years, a backpack diaper bag is hands down the easiest to manage. It ensures both your hands are free—to push a stroller, hold a car seat, hold older kids’ hands, etc. And it also helps to evenly distribute the weight of the bag across your bag instead of it all falling on one shoulder. Another bonus is backpack diaper bags can easily attach to your stroller.
Diaper Caddy Organizer: Whether you have a changing table or use the top of a dresser, you need a dedicated location to change your baby’s diapers so that you can keep all the changing products in one place. Using a diaper caddy organizer makes it easier to contain all the products and find them quickly when you need them.
Infant Car Seat: This is an obvious essential, but all babies need an infant car seat. You cannot take your baby home from the hospital without one. Not only is it the law, but it’s the safest form of travel for your baby. You can buy additional car seat bases for most models, which makes it easy to drive your baby in multiple cars.
Snap and Go Stroller: You’ll want some kind of stroller that works with your infant car seat. This can be a larger four-wheeled (or more) stroller or a three-wheeled jogging stroller, but my suggestion is an easy light-weight snap and go stroller. It’s basically just a light stroller frame that is made for carrying an infant car seat. There are so many times when your baby will fall asleep in your car while you’re out and about. The last thing you want to do is wake him/her up to place in a baby carrier or tote the car seat around on your arm. It’s great to be able to pop the car seat into a stroller frame and be on your way.
Newborn Diapers: Obviously, diapers are one of the most important baby essentials. It’s a good idea to stock up on a couple boxes of newborn diapers so you’re not in a pinch in the middle of the night, realizing you’ve run out. I also buy a couple boxes of size 1 diapers and have them ready before baby arrives. This way, if you run out of newborn diapers or if you’re baby grows fast, you have size 1 diapers ready to go.
Rock and Play Sleeper: I can’t say enough good things about the rock and play sleepers. I had one with my very first baby and consider it one of my top three baby essentials. I love that you can move it around your house to let baby nap, and also that it keeps your baby in a more upright position. This would be super helpful if your baby has reflux. Since this will be my fourth baby, I also consider this a crucial way to keep baby from napping off the floor, making him more safe in this sleeper with other kids around.
Baby Bath Set: Though some babies hate baths at the start, most warm up to them and really enjoy bath time. Not only is it a relaxing time for baby, but I find it’s a relaxing time for Mama, too! Be sure to have your bathroom stocked with a baby bath set before your newborn arrives so you’re ready for his/her first bath at home.
Infant Swaddlers: With my first baby, I swaddled him with the hospital-issued swaddling blankets as well as muslin ones. I wasn’t a great swaddler, and oftentimes, my baby broke out of the swaddle. I learned about infant swaddlers for my subsequent babies, and I must admit that they make swaddling so much easier because they use velcro and there isn’t all that extra fabric.
Onesies: Onesies are a staple of any baby wardrobe no matter the season. A summer baby may wear onesies before being swaddled, and a winter baby may use a onesie under a sleeper as an extra layer of warmth in cold weather. It’s great to have several onesies on hand due to frequent mishaps like spit-ups and blow-outs.
Diaper Changing Pad and Cover: Diaper changing pads make diaper changes so much easier, especially in the middle of the night. Most pads are curved so that baby stays in the middle and they also have a strap to keep baby safe while you are busy sanitizing your hands. These pads are made of waterproof, wipable material, and I would suggest buying more than one cover since you will likely be washing it often.
Bouncy Seat: Once your baby hits the 6-week mark and has better head control, bouncy seats are a great option for putting your baby down so they can see what is going on around them while you have free hands to get some things done. I often put baby in a bouncy seat while cooking dinner or folding laundry. Besides being more upright so they can see you or what’s going on around them, many bouncy seats also have attachments that will entertain your baby.
Diaper Rash Cream: No matter how often or quickly you change your baby’s diaper, there’s a good chance that little tush will become red at some point. It’s a good idea to have diaper rash cream handy at your changing station for when you notice the slightlish rash pop up. That way, you can put on the cream and get ahead of things before they become super uncomfortable for your baby.
Baby Wipes: Like diapers, you will go through lots of baby wipes in the newborn stage, as you end up changing your baby up to 10 times a day. If your baby has sensitive skin, like many newborns do, look for a wipe that caters to sensitivities.
Sleepers: There are so many cute baby clothes on the market, but one clothing item I can’t live without for my babies is sleepers. This may be an obvious item for colder months, but even in the summer I put my newborns in sleepers. Babies are used to being warm and cozy in the womb, so even during the summer they want to feel snuggly and warm as they work so hard to regulate their own body temperature. Though there are many types of sleepers on the market, I suggest making sure you have several zip-up sleepers for middle of the night changings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve snapped up a sleeper the wrong way at 2 a.m. in my sleepless delirium. A simple zipper makes it much easier!
Baby Crib (as well as mattress, mattress pad and crib sheets): Though your baby may not sleep in the crib right when you arrive home from the hospital, it’s nice to have the crib set up in the nursery and ready to go for when you do transition the baby to his/her own sleep space.
Baby Carrier (with infant insert): Babywearing is definitely a personal choice, but I find that the more kids you have, the more essential it is. (I also love my Lillebaby Carrier, which is great for a summer baby because of the breathable mesh and doesn’t require an infant insert.)
Diaper Pail and refills: A diaper pail may seem like a superfluous buy, but when you are changing multiple diapers in the middle of the night, I promise that you will be so grateful you have one. Otherwise, you’ll have to sleepwalk through your house to throw away any smelly diapers in an outside trashcan.
What are your baby essentials?
This post contains affiliate links, which help to support this website.