Your baby completely depends on you to provide them care, safety, food, clothes, and many other things to help them survive and thrive starting the moment they are born.
In short, babies need A LOT of stuff in their first years. Companies will try to tell you that everything is critical to their well-being, but we’re here to tell you that’s just not the case based on our research and personal experiences.
We’ve raised babies through the early years and surveyed families to find out what your baby actually needs and what you may want to make life easier.
We also know each family’s lifestyle is different. So consider what you believe your baby needs to be happy, comfortable, and ready for a great start in life as you go through our Ultimate Baby Checklist.
Make baby delivery in the hospital a little more comfortable
- Extra Clothes – That moment you get to take the hospital gown off is glorious. Make sure you pack extra changes of clothes for yourself and spouse, especially if you’ll have an extended stay.
- Phone Chargers – You’ll be spending a ton of time taking pictures and calling family in the first couple of days after birth. Bring 1-2 spare chargers to keep your phone’s battery full.
- Entertainment (books, tablets, music, etc.) – Depending on how long you’re in labor or recovering post-partum, you’ll want something to keep you entertained. Bring a book if you’re a reader, tablet if you want to watch movies, or headphones/speakers if you enjoy having music play in the background.
- Pajamas/Sleep Wear: You’ll be spending most of the time in a hospital gown, but your significant other may want to bring some comfy pajamas. However, you may want to pack other comfort items you use to sleep especially in a new place (blankets, stuffed animal, sleep mask, etc.).
- Slippers – You may get by on the booties/socks hospitals provide, but the hard and cold floor isn’t very comfortable to walk around on.
- Shampoo and Soap – While hospitals provide shampoo and soap, you may want to bring your favorite in travel-sized bottles from home.
- Snacks – Your partner, family, or you may want to snack on your favorite chips, candies, or protein/granola bars late at night. Hospital cafeterias are not generally known for having a good spread of foods – so pack stuff you like.
Things to Do
- Consult with the Baby Specialists – There are Feeding & Lactation Consultants available in almost all hospitals. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help getting baby to latch, take the bottle, or just need advice on swaddling correctly. There are literally baby experts all around you that can answer nearly any question you have – ask for help!
- Schedule Baby Check-ups – At a minimum, you’ll want to set up your first-week check-up with your selected pediatrician. You can also schedule appointments for months 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 12 to stay ahead before things get too crazy at home.
- Ask for Extra Supplies – Most nurses will be happy to bring you free samples and extra diapers, wipes, pacifiers, or other goodies. Just don’t abuse this and attempt to load up a car full of baby stuff.
Bringing your newborn home for the first time
- Infant Car Seat – You’ll want a carrier car seat that detaches so you can bring it in to strap baby in.
- Baby Jacket / Blanket – Baby will need to be dressed appropriately for the weather. In colder weather, you’ll want to bundle and cover them up while transporting them to the car.
- Baby Formula or Milk – Depending on the length of the car ride and when you leave the hospital, you may want to have formula or milk ready to go.
- Pacifier – Most babies are fine with car rides. However, you may want to bring a pacifier (if you don’t like the ones provided by the hospital) in case they need soothing.
Things to Do
- Feed Baby Before Leaving – So you don’t have to deal with feeding during the car ride, you should plan your hospital departure after the baby has been fed. This often makes the car ride a little easier since they’ll likely be taking a snooze.
- Pet Scent Introduction – It sometimes helps to bring a burp cloth or blanket the baby has used home for your animals to smell. This can help them get acclimated with the baby’s scent before they get there.
- Pet Sitter – If you’ve got a crazy dog or cat, you may want to drop them off at a sitter for the day. This allows you to peacefully introduce baby to their new home.
- Be Alone with Your New Family – Grandmas, mothers, fathers, friends, and just about everyone will be lining up to visit your new baby. Take 24-48 hours to enjoy your new family, settle in, and get into some sort of schedule with the baby.
- Relax and Enjoy – When things calm down after the whirlwind of childbirth, take some time to enjoy and reflect on the miracle that you’ve got in your arms.
Getting your newborn through the first year
- Baby Gates – While they may not start crawling or pulling themselves up until around 6 months, that day will arrive out of nowhere. You’ll want to have retractable baby gates ready to go when the day comes.
- Corner Guards or Bumpers – Babies and toddlers are super clumsy. If you have hard surfaces with sharp corners, you should block those off with furniture and consider getting rubber guards for all of those surfaces.
- Electrical Outlet Covers – Electrical outlets seem to attract babies like a moth to a flame. These should be covered if you have any children in your home.
- Cabinet Locks – We tend to keep dangerous cleaning chemicals stashed under the kitchen or bathroom sinks. It’s best to move these up out of reach, but you can also get locks for your cabinets to keep baby safe when they start getting curious.
- Toilet Seat Locks – Babies have no clue what goes into toilets, but they’ll be interested in checking it out. Easy-to-use locks will help keep your baby out of the dirty toilet water.
- Furniture Anti-Tip Straps – As babies start pulling themselves up, it’s likely they’ll start reaching for tables, dressers drawers, bookshelves, TV stands, and other furniture for leverage. You should mount them to the wall with a low-cost strap so your baby, toddler, or small child doesn’t pull them down.
- High Chair – There are many styles of high chairs including some that are convertible, foldable, or mount directly to a table. There are even space saver high chairs that are great for small spaces.
- Bibs (10-15) – Catching drool and food are the main two uses of baby bibs. A soft cloth bib works great to absorb the flood of drool as the baby starts teething. When it comes to food, you’ll want to get a waterproof or silicone bib that catches food, milk, or other liquids.
- Burp Cloths (15-20) – Get ready for the drool and spit-up. Burp cloths are necessary unless you don’t mind changing your clothes after each feeding. You’ll go through these like crazy and will want extras in case laundry doesn’t get done.
- Baby Formula or Breast Milk – The decision to breast or formula feed your baby is a personal choice. Your baby will start out at about 16 ounces each day and will be up to 24-36 ounces after a couple of months.
- 4oz Baby Bottles (8-12) – In the first month, you’ll be feeding your baby 2-3 ounces every 3-4 hours. Needless to say, you’ll be running the dishwasher or cleaning bottles every single day.
- 8oz Baby Bottles (6-8) – As baby gets bigger, they’ll start drinking more milk/formula. You can get 6-ounce bottles, but you may be moving up to 8-ounce bottles between 6 months and 1 year old.
- Bottle Nipples (8-12) – You can’t use a bottle without a nipple. It may take some trial-and-error before you find a nipple with the right shape or flow for your baby.
- Sippy or 360 Cups – Closer to one year old, they’ll be able to hold and sip out of a cup on their own.
- Baby Bowls and Spoons (3-5) – The best spoons to use with baby are those that are plastic or have silicone ends. These won’t damage the baby’s developing teeth or gums.
- Baby Food Maker/Processor – If you’re into smoothies or homemade foods, a baby food processor may be right up your alley. These machines make everything from smooth baby foods to chunky fruit smoothies.
- Silicone Baby Placemat – Babies are extremely messy. Silicone placemats help contain the mess and also work as a plate/bowl that sticks to the table.
- Floor Mess Mat – Another item that can help with messy babies is a floor mat. These easy-to-clean rubber or plastic mats catch the crumbs, spit-up, or liquids that your baby’s bib doesn’t.
- High Chair Cover – Restaurant high chairs are always sticky and are rarely ever cleaned. A high chair cover protects your baby from that nasty stuff and any sickness the previous occupant may have had.
- Breast Pump – You never know when you’ll need to pump out milk when the baby is sleeping or just not hungry. A discrete travel pump can get the job if you’re out-and-about.
- Milk Storage Bags or Container – Odds are your body won’t be able to perfectly balance milk production and your baby’s appetite. Milk storage containers allow you to safely store breast milk for longer periods of time until the baby is ready.
- Nursing Pillow – Whether you’re breast or formula feeding, you’ll want support for your arm while baby feeds. You could be sitting there for over an hour so comfort is important.
- Nursing Bra – If you’re breastfeeding, nursing bras allow quick and inconspicuous access for your baby. Some also provide padding or areas to place pads to absorb leaking milk.
- Breast Pads – These pads provide both comfort and protection. They soak up leaking milk and prevent further chafing on your already sore breasts.
- Nursing Cover – You never know when or where you’ll need to feed the baby. Covers provide additional privacy when nursing in public places.
- Lanolin or Nipple Ointment – Nursing mothers know the joy and pain associated with breastfeeding. Lanolin oil can help soothe sore and chafed nipples.
- Warm or Cold Gel Packs – Another way to soothe your sore breasts is by using hot/cold gel packs. They make specific packs that you can stuff right into your bra.
- Bassinet (Months 1-6) – Bassinets are the safest and most convenient place for babies to sleep in the early months. You can set up the bassinet right next to your bed at night to make sure your baby is sleeping comfortably.
- Crib (Months 6+) – After 6 months to a year, you may be ready to move the baby into a crib in the nursery. Many cribs are also able to convert into a toddler bed once they can no longer be contained.
- Crib Mattress – The first mattress your baby will sleep on is likely much stiffer and sturdy than your own. They also don’t get to use a blanket or pillow early on either. While it may not seem comfortable, this reduces the risk of suffocation due to the lack of soft cushioning.
- Bed Sheets (2-3 sets) – Babies have blowouts or may spit-up overnight. You’ll want a couple of sets of sheets handy in case of accidents.
- Swaddle Blankets (3-5) – Similar to the bedsheets, your baby will be wrapped up like a burrito quite a bit. Make sure you have a couple of extra swaddle blankets while one is in the wash or covered in spit-up.
- Baby Monitor – There is nothing more nerve-wracking than the first few nights your baby sleeps in a room by themselves. To help you sleep at night, you’ll need a video or audio baby monitor to watch over your little one.
- Glider or Rocking Chair – This is more for mom and dad’s comfort, but a glider chair is a critical piece of furniture for the nursery. The smooth back-and-forth motion soothes the baby to sleep and it makes holding the baby for hours a little easier when you can put your feet up.
- Sleep Sacks (3-5) – As an alternative to swaddling blankets, sleep sacks are often easier to use and serve a similar purpose.
- Portable Crib (Months 1 – 36) – If you do a lot of traveling or visit family/friends, a portable crib is a very convenient way for your baby to sleep anywhere.
- Nightlight – In the early months, nightlights make doing anything late at night a little easier. You won’t want to turn on a bright light at midnight to make a bottle or check on your baby.
- White Noise Machine – The use of a noise machine is a personal preference. However, you may want one to drown out the noise if you have squeaky flooring or loud family members.
- Mobile – Attach to the crib, mobiles help some babies fall asleep at night by soothing them with cute characters and slow rotating motion.
- Disposable or Cloth Diapers – Babies go through A LOT of diapers. Newborns average about 8-10 diapers per day, which means you’ll be changing between 720-900 diapers in the first 3 months. If you’re environmentally friendly and don’t mind the extra effort, cloth diapers can be washed for reuse.
- Diaper Pail – Until babies start eating solids, it’s difficult to dump the poop out of diapers before throwing them away. Diaper pails act as a separate garbage specifically for diapers that attempt to seal in bad smells (not always effective).
- Disposable Dirty Diaper Baggies – Since your baby will have lots of mushy poop, disposable diaper baggies help contain the smell.
- Wipes – You’ll need wipes to clean your baby’s bottom during each diaper changing. These are also great for cleaning small messes and wiping baby’s face after meal-time.
- Changing Pad or Table – Changing pads help protect your flooring, dresser, or tabletops from poop and pee as you’re changing the baby’s diaper. This especially comes in handy when the baby has a blow-out or spit-up all over their clothes.
- Diaper Cream – Unfortunately, it’s super easy for new babies to develop diaper rash due to the high number of diaper changes in the first few months. Creams and ointments, like A&D or Desitin, can help soothe their bottom and reduce the chance of infection.
- Diaper Bag – Whether you use a backpack or diaper bag, you’ll need something to carry extra diapers, bottles, milk/formula, wipes, and other baby gear anytime you leave the house.
- Wipe Warmer – If your baby fusses when changing their diaper, it may be the cold or room temperature wipes you’re using. Wipe warmers may be an easy way to provide extra comfort to your baby while wiping their bottom.
- Cloth Diaper Sprayer – When cleaning out the cloth diaper, poop often gets really stuck to the diaper which makes it difficult to clean. Cloth diaper sprayers connect to your toilet tank to provide a little hose that makes it easier to clean out poop and pee.
- Washcloths (5-10) – Sensitive baby skin needs the softest and most comfortable washcloths during bathtime. Baby washcloths are made of softer materials such as muslin, terry cloth, and the most popular is bamboo fabric.
- Hooded Bath Towel (2-3) – Most regular towels are much too large to use with a baby. Baby towels are smaller with a hood to snuggly wrap your baby up after bath time.
- Soap and Shampoo – Some babies love bath time while others completely hate it. Using a tear-free baby shampoo and soap is highly recommended to make the bath a little more enjoyable.
- Baby Bathtub – If it’s unsafe or uncomfortable to use the bathtub in your home, you can get an in-sink or standalone baby bathtub. These little tubs are easy to move around and store when not being used.
- Anti-Slip Tub Mat – As your baby gets a little bigger, you’ll move them into a regular bathtub. Most tubs have a super slippery bottom that makes it nearly impossible to keep the baby from sliding around. This is why an anti-slip tub mat is necessary for any bathtubs.
- Baby Lotion – Babies have super sensitive skin that can dry out even easier than your own. Putting lotion on after bathtime and/or before bed will keep your baby’s skin moisturized.
- Soft Hairbrush – A soft bristle hairbrush will keep your baby’s hair looking great. More importantly, it also helps with crusty patches of skin caused by cradle cap.
- Bath Toys – While not entirely essential, toys help keep your baby occupied and entertained during bath time. It’ll make taking baths easier down the road if they enjoy their time in the tub.
- Onesies (10-15) – The most widely known and used baby clothing is the onesie. These cute outfits keep your newborn warm and are great for older babies to wear under other layers of clothes.
- Pajamas (5-10) – Unless you leave the house, odds are your baby will be wearing pajamas most of the time. This is especially the case on colder days where you just want to snuggle up.
- Infant Mittens (2-3 pairs) – If your baby’s onesie or pajamas don’t cover their hands, you may need to get baby mittens to protect their face from scratches. Their nails are soft, but they’re also super sharp.
- T-shirts or long-sleeved shirts (5-10 per season) – Of course you’ll need plenty of t-shirts, baby hoodies, and long-sleeve shirts depending on the outside climate.
- Socks or Booties (5-10 pairs) – Most newborn pajamas and onesies cover their feet. However, you may want them to wear a cute outfit that requires socks or booties to keep their toes warm.
- Infant Caps (2-3) – Babies lose a lot of body heat through the tops of their heads since most have no hair. Infant caps can help regulate their body temperature.
- Stretchy pants or leggings (5-10 pairs) – A pair of leggings or stretchy pants are adorable on every baby. Honestly, they work as great on baby boys just as well as little girls.
- Cute Outfits (3-5 per age range) – If you’re like most parents, you’ll be taking plenty of baby pictures and going on many outings to visit friends and family. You’ll want a few cute outfits for these occasions.
- Baby Shoes – Another adorable and often expensive purchase is baby shoes. They aren’t really practical since little babies are growing so fast and don’t start walking until 6-12 months, but do they look so darn cute!
SOOTHE AND ENTERTAIN
- Pacifiers (10-15) – The ultimate baby soother, pacifiers are a staple of parenting infants and toddlers.
- Pacifier Clips – The baby’s pacifier will pop out of their mouth countless times each day. You’ll absolutely need to clip the pacifier onto the baby’s clothes to prevent having to wash it a million times.
- Washable Board Books – Even if they can’t read or see the book, reading helps your baby develop critical language skills. Start with plastic or board books that can withstand a beating from a baby.
- Baby Toys – Playing with balls, stuffed animals, blocks, trucks, or any toys helps stimulate the baby’s motor skills.
- Toy Baskets and Boxes – You’ll likely purchase and receive tons of toys for your little one that you’ll want to store in baskets, bins, or boxes. Keeping the toys organized and off the floor is a daily battle as they get older.
- Bouncer / Activity Center – The first step to walking is getting a baby comfortable with standing on their feet. Bouncers provide a safe and stationary way to allow your baby to jump around, play, and get some energy out.
- Swing – Swings provide a peaceful place for your baby to rest and hangout. They often aid in putting the baby to sleep with the smooth swinging motion and music/sounds.
- Baby Walker – When your baby is ready to start walking, baby walkers are great toys that can help assist your baby in learning how to take those first steps. However, since your baby won’t be walking in the first few months, this is a purchase you can wait on.
- Activity Gym – Before the baby can crawl, you may want to pick up an activity gym to keep them entertained while laying on the floor. They typically have interactive toys hanging from cushioned bars that cross similar to a tent.
- Soft Floor Chair (Boppy) – These soft C-shaped cushions help prop the baby up while laying on the floor. This can be great for babies that have occasional acid reflux or vurps (vomit burps). Boppy pillows can also be wrapped around you to help hold the baby up while you’re feeding them.
- Stimulating Movies and TV Shows – Babies love videos with lots of colors and eye-catching visuals – even if they have no clue what’s going on. It’s even better if the shows are educational to help them learn about colors, shapes, emotions, manners, and other basic life skills.
- Infant Car Seat – A detachable infant car seat will make your life so much easier since it also turns into a baby carrier. This is great for very cold, hot, or rainy days where you don’t want to stand outside getting a baby in and out of the car.
- Car Seat Cover – You’ll want to get a car seat cover to provide your baby protection from the blazing sun, strong wind, heavy snow, or hard rain.
- Headrest Mirror – Since babies start out rear-facing, you’ll need to get a mirror to see their faces while in the front seats. Most headrest mirrors can be installed in minutes.
- Sunshade – Your baby will be looking up at the sun for most of their early life. A sunshade mounts directly to the window to help block out the harmful rays.
- Teether and Toys for Car Seat – While looking at the sun and headrest can be exciting, most babies would rather be playing with toys while on a drive. A few toys or teethers attached to the car seat help occupy them during the ride.
- Seat Protector – Kids can do some damage to your car interior. We recommend using a seat protector underneath the car seat to make sure it doesn’t puncture or rip the seat. We’d also suggest a plastic shield/cover behind the driver and passenger since kids love to kick seats.
- Toy Bag – You may want to fill a small bag with toys that you can keep in the middle seat next to the baby.
- Portable DVD/Blu-ray Player – Especially for the long trips, having the ability to play your child’s favorite movies or shows is great. It keeps them entertained and mostly content to sit in the car seat for long periods of time.
- Thermal Bottle Carrier – Whether you’re bringing along formula or breast milk, you’ll need a way to keep it from getting too hot or cold. A thermal bottle carrier helps with this and also provides a way to transport a bottle you’ve warmed up at home.
- Baby Soap & Lotion – Babies have a gentle soap they use during bathtime. Make sure you take a travel-sized bottle of it if you’re going to be staying overnight anywhere.
- Plenty of Diapers – Newborns go through between 50 to 70 diapers per week so make sure you pack more than enough for the trip.
- Portable Crib or Play Yard – Some hotels offer a complimentary Pack ‘n Play for baby to sleep. However, there’s no telling when or if it was ever cleaned. We’d recommend packing your own portable crib or bassinet for safe sleep for your baby.
- Baby Carriers – If you plan on doing a bunch of walking (e.g., Disney, hiking), having a baby carrier packed will help save your back and arms. These carriers wrap around you to hold the baby either in front or on your back.
- Stroller – Likewise, a lightweight stroller is great if you’ll be out-and-about all day long. It’s nice to have the extra weight off your back so you can better enjoy the trip.
- Baby Sunscreen Lotion – If your baby will be exposed to sunshine for extended periods of time, it’s highly recommended to generously apply sunscreen on their arms, legs, face, and other uncovered areas. Sunburns are a quick way to ruin a vacation!
- Shopping Cart Cover – If you plan to bring baby shopping and if you’re a germaphobe, you’ll want to get a shopping cart cover. Cart handles are one of the easiest places for your baby to pick up nasty germs.
- Mosquito Netting – When camping or spending time outside at night, a mosquito net can cover the baby carrier or stroller. With the possibility of mosquito-transmitted diseases, any extra precautions for your baby should be taken.
- Stroller Rain Cover – While an umbrella works great for you, babies can’t hold them up on their own. A stroller rain cover keeps baby dry while in the stroller during a rain shower.
- Hats (2-3) – If you’re hitting the beach, park, or trail, you should be covering your baby’s head with a large-brimmed hat. Sunscreen doesn’t always cut it when it comes to the face and top of the head.
HEALTH & CLEANING
- Bottle & Nipple Brush – How you clean the bottle depends on its style and whether you’ve got a dishwasher at home. Bottle and nipple brushes make sure all of the crusted milk or formula is cleaned out.
- Baby Laundry Detergent – Many regular laundry detergents may contain too many chemicals for sensitive baby skin. Baby detergents such as Dreft remove most of those chemicals and leave your baby’s clothes smelling great.
- Baby Thermometer – This is a critical device for parents that worry a lot. There are several types of baby thermometers that work by reading the temperature of your baby’s ear, forehead, armpit, or bottom. The butt is still recommended as the most accurate, but the other locations may provide a similar reading.
- Baby Nail File & Clippers – Baby nails grow like crazy and are super soft. Some parents are afraid to cut their nails so they bite their baby’s nails instead. However, you can also use a baby nail file or special nail clippers that reduce the chance of cutting your baby’s finger.
- Skin Moisturizer & Ointment – Baby’s skin tends to get dry during the colder months when the air isn’t as humid. Ointments and lotions should be applied regularly to combat dry baby skin.
- Nasal Aspirator/Sucker – As gross as it may be for some, you’ll need to help your baby get boogers out of their nose. They don’t have the ability to blow their nose, so a nasal aspirator or sucker bulb is one of the best ways to get mucus out.
- Teething Toys – As teeth start to poke through the baby’s gums, they may start to get fussier and have trouble sleeping. Teething toys or rings can reduce the pain and also help the teeth through the gum line. Some teethers can also be put in the freezer to help with inflammation in your baby’s mouth.
- First-Aid Kits – Most bandaids are too big for a baby finger or toe. You should have smaller bandaids, gauze, and other first-aid items readily available in your home at all times.
- Bottle Warmer – If you breastfeed, you’ll likely have extra milk stashed in the refrigerator or freezer. A bottle warmer quickly brings the milk to a safe temperature for your baby to drink.
- Humidifier – If you live in an area with colder weather, running a humidifier in the nursery will moisten the dry air and help them sleep comfortably at night.
- Bottle Drying Rack – Bottles can be difficult to dry since the moisture gets trapped in the bottle. A bottle drying rack holds the bottles upside down to help dry them out. A great tip is to run cold water in the bottle before placing them on the rack for faster drying.
- Bottle Sterilizer – While we do our best to thoroughly clean the bottles, there will most likely be microscopic bacteria that you’ve missed. A bottle sterilizer acts as a holding rack and removes 99% of bacteria, viruses, and other germs in a matter of minutes.
- Dishwasher Basket – There are plenty of little pieces of baby stuff that needs to be cleaned. A dishwasher basket holds nipples, cup lids, straws, and other small parts while being run through a wash cycle.
We’ve used our personal experience and surveyed many families to understand which baby gear was critical in their first year. Almost as important, we shared what you may be able to get by without or at least wait on purchasing until later.
Ultimately, what you buy for your baby depends on what works best for your family, home, and budget situation. Just know that not everything on the Baby Checklist is needed the day your baby is born.
However, it can help to shop ahead of time to pick up items when you can find great deals rather than when you actually need it. Shopping for baby ahead of time may also reduce stress during pregnancy by having everything ready for your little one.
Do you have other essential baby gear that isn’t on our Baby Checklist? Leave us a comment to let us know what other products you’ve used and how it helped your family!