Preparing for a new baby can be overwhelming – especially when it is your first.
But when it comes to buying baby gear and setting up a nursery you really don’t have to stress! You might be happy to hear that there are really only a few ‘essential’ items you’ll need to have ready before your baby arrives.
Most things can be bought afterwards – when you know more about your baby (like the sex and the size) and your own style of parenting.
So, this is a list of what we – with the help of our forum members – think are essential items to buy BEFORE your baby is born.
Our guide to essential nursery items for your baby
You’ll need somewhere safe for your baby to sleep. Unless you’re planning to co-sleep you’ll need a cot (cost-effective as they’ll be able to use until they’re 2+) or a bassinet (which they’ll grow out of sooner – meaning you’ll need a cot down the track – but is more convenient while they are young).
- Cot (or bassinet)
- Fitted sheet (consider buying two or more, it is useful to have a spare)
- Fitted waterproof mattress protector (protect your mattress from poo explosions)
- Swaddles or muslin wraps or blankets (consider two or more)
TIP: Make sure you’re familiar with the SIDS Safe Sleeping Guidelines before you shop – otherwise you might spend money on something that may put your baby at risk. Plus check out our Cot Safety Checklist.
You don’t absolutely need a baby bath or change table. You can bath a baby in the regular bath tub (or even the sink) and you can change a baby’s nappy on the floor or a bed. But both items are useful and will make things a bit easier on your back!
- Towel (baby towels are thin and often have hoods, consider buying two)
- Face washers
- Nappies (if you’re using disposables just buy one large ‘newborn’ park to start with, in case your baby grows out of them fast)
- Terry cloth nappies/muslin squares (useful to have a few on hand as spew rags, or to put under baby on the change table.)
- Nappy wipes or cotton wool balls
- Baby bath (one with a plug is easier to empty)
- Change mat or change table
TIP: Protect your new baby’s skin by only bathing every second day or so with just warm water (or a mild, non-soap based cleanser if required). Check out our Change table Safety Checklist and our guide to buying cloth nappies.
Going out with a newborn
Your newborn is required by law to be in a baby capsule or rear-facing car seat while travelling in a car. It’s a good idea to have one professionally installed a few weeks before your due date. Make sure you are familiar with your state’s car child restraint laws.
You might also want to invest in a good quality pram. Look for one that reclines flat for a newborn but can be converted into a stroller for a toddler. Many families however prefer to use a baby carrier for new babies and perhaps a cheaper stroller for older babies and toddlers.
- Baby capsule/rear-facing car seat
- Baby carrier and/or pram (look for one that reclines flat for a newborn)
- Nappy bag (to carry spare nappies, cloths, wipes, clothes etc when out)
Dressing and baby clothes
There is no need to buy many clothes before baby arrives. Just have a few necessities on hand, then go shopping once you know what size and sex your baby is. Otherwise you could end up with a heap of cute 0000 outfits that never see the light of day.
Also, it pays to be practical. Sure little baby jeans and T-shirts are cute but they aren’t comfortable and you won’t get much use out of them, especially in the smaller sizes. Keep in mind that people may buy clothes as gifts too.
Also check to see if your maternity hospital has a list of what they’d like you to bring in for your baby – this is often a good guide as well. We’ve said 5 of most items here so you’re prepared for baby messes and to have a few in the wash.
- Singlets x 5 (or, even better, singlet suits – as they don’t ride up!).
- Short-sleeved bodysuits x 5 (can be used under clothes in winter)
- Long-sleeved growsuits x 5 (you’ll still need at least a couple of these even if your baby is born in summer in case of air-conditioning – especially in hospital)
- Socks x 3
READ: Check out our Ultimate guide to buying baby clothes – size guide and tips and find a local baby clothing store.
Feeding your newborn baby
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, you won’t need much in the way of equipment. If things don’t go as planned then you’ll be able to easily buy formula and feeding equipment in most towns and cities. If you want to have just-in-case formula you can buy packets with individual sachets – as tins of formula need to be used within a certain time period once opened.
- Breastpads (cloth can be a money saver)
- Bottles, if you’re bottlefeeding, and bottle-cleaning equipment
Useful baby items (but not essential)
There are many more items that we could have included on our lists – some people might consider the following items as essential while others don’t. The thing is you can’t know for sure until your baby is born.
The following baby items are useful – they’d make great baby shower gifts!
- A special ‘feeding’ pillow or a ‘V’ shaped cushion
- Digital thermometer
- Baby monitor
- Nail scissors/clippers/toiletries
- Baby sleeping bag
- Nappy bag with a change mat
- Sunshades for car windows
- Portable cot
- Beanies, mittens (if you’re having a winter bub)
- Breastpump (if you want to try giving bub the occasional bottle of EBM)
- Playmat for tummy time
- A dummy/pacifier
It pays to remember that every family is different and we’re all on a different budget.
Some parents will consider a pram a ‘must-have’ while other families love their baby carrier. Some don’t mind buying an expensive wooden change table to match the cot, while others prefer a more cost-effective one that fits on top of an existing set of drawers. And some won’t bother at all – preferring to change the baby’s nappy on the floor or a bed.
It really is important to find what works for you. And you probably won’t figure that out until after your baby has arrived.
Hopefully in the meantime you’ll find our baby nursery essential checklist a useful guide when preparing for your new baby. All the best! xx
Thanks to the members who helped compile this list: shabbychook, Kimnus, Atizmum, JesseBear, NikkiTapscott, zultbear, SpunkyMonkeyandSupermansMum, swimmingupstream and SorensMum.
We’ve made this guide to newborn and nursery essentials into a printable list for you!
Image credit: mariok/123RF Stock Photo