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There is absolutely nothing in this world that can prepare you for the joy of finding out you’re going to have a baby. My wife (who lovingly helped me craft this guide for you) and I were over-the-moon-excited, of course, but then reality quickly set in.
We were going to be new parents.
To be honest, we didn’t even know what we didn’t know. Always the practical one in the family, I had dozens of questions about how to prepare for our little one’s arrival, such as:
Is there a list of things you need for a new baby?
How do we make sure we buy everything our baby needs? Can’t someone just give me a newborn checklist?
What are the most essential things a newborn baby needs?
And the million dollar question: How are we going to pay for all of it? (I mean, I am a personal finance geek, after all!)
Making a Newborn Wish List: Needs vs. Wants
When we finally sat down to start making a plan, we quickly realized there were hundreds and hundreds of things we could get for the baby that would probably come in handy at some point.
But did we really need to buy a $50 light-up fish that sang songs in seven languages? (Apparently toys like this help with brain development and other important-sounding psychological and physiological processes.)
For my wife in particular, it was hard to filter out the noise of emotional marketing messages to figure out what baby things to buy before birth.
Ultimately, we decided to make a list of baby needs vs. wants to help us as we researched and checked out registry suggestions online. We wanted to make sure that we actually had all of the most essential things a baby needs ready to go so I wouldn’t have to run out to the store in the middle of the night.
After researching and asking other parents, our list of baby essentials included:
- Clothes (actually tons and tons of clothes)
- Crib and bassinet
- Video baby monitor
- Diapers and wipes (again, tons and tons of diapers and wipes!)
- Diaper rash cream
- Diaper pail (we chose Diaper Genie based on its great reviews)
- Baby bathtub, shampoo, wash clothes, and towels
- Gentle laundry detergent
- Car seat and stroller (make sure these are compatible)
- Baby swing OR bouncer seat
- Washable mattress pads and sheets for the crib
- Burp cloths
- Receiving blankets
- Digital readout thermometer
- Sleep sack with zippers (trust us, you don’t want to deal with snaps in the dark)
- Humidifier (Cool mist is best, as warm mist can create bacteria build-up)
- Diaper bag
From there, we created a list of wants for our baby:
- Extra diaper bag/backpack (We picked a dad-friendly option)
- Rocking chair or glider for the nursery
- Baby play mat
- Special clothing (for example, we picked out sports jerseys for our son)
- Milk storage bags (these may be a must-have if you plan to store breast milk)
- High chair (your baby won’t need this for a long time)
- Crib mobile (your baby will love it or hate it)
- High-end crib
- Decorations for the nursery (your baby won’t know the difference)
Newborn Baby Shopping List – Detailed Breakdown
The newborn baby supply list above is a great start, but it’s only 50,000 foot overview—which is exactly what we needed as first time parents.
We quickly realized, however, that we needed a detailed newborn baby shopping list to make sure we didn’t just aimlessly start adding things to our baby registry.
Months of research and the experience we gained raising our son—he is now 18 months old—went into the creation and revision of the following detailed baby shopping list for first time moms.
Trust me, you’ll be tempted to buy all the clothes (or at least put them on your registry). But you’ll be happy later if you pick out practical and comfortable clothes for your little one.
Here are our must-have baby clothes, including recommended quantities:
- 6-8 one piece pajamas (your baby will live in these right away)
- 6-8 onesies
- 4-5 warm blankets (essential if your child is born during colder months)
- 6-8 swaddling blankets
- 2-4 warm hats
The nursery is dangerous territory if you’re trying to stay on a budget or keep your registry items to a minimum. Here’s our detailed breakdown of the nursery items you really need:
- Crib (Choose one that will last until your child is ready for a toddler bed or find one that will convert to a toddler bed)
- Bassinet (Choose a lightweight option so you can move it in and out of rooms)
- Video baby monitor (We chose a monitor with one handheld base and two cameras)
- Baby hangers
- Washable crib mattress pads (2 minimum)
- 4 crib mattress sheets
Choosing between cloth and disposable diapers has to be one of the greatest debates of the last century.
Full disclosure: We are a disposable diaper family. It’s just easier and well worth the cost.
- 2 boxes of newborn diapers
- 2 boxes of size 1 diapers (your baby may move up to this size faster than you expect)
- 2 large boxes of baby wipes
- Diaper rash cream
- Non-porous changing pad
We didn’t buy a dedicated changing table because we saw an opportunity to save money. Plus, by changing our son on a changing pad on the floor, we made sure he couldn’t roll off and get hurt.
The items your baby will need to eat will vary greatly depending on whether you’re nursing or bottle feeding. If you take a hybrid approach, as we did, this list of essentials will give you what you need:
- 10-12 bottles, 4-8 oz. in size (get more if you don’t want to wash them constantly)
- Bottle cleaning brush (you’ll need this to keep bottles bacteria-free)
- Pump (your insurance may cover this, so please check before you buy or register!)
- Nipple cream and pads
- Nursing pillow (these worked way better than regular pillows)
- 4-5 bibs
- 10-12 burp cloths
- 3-4 pacifiers
When your baby is finally ready for a bath, you’ll want to be prepared for the adventure. Just make sure to hold on tight! Here is our list of must-haves for giving a newborn baby a bath:
- Baby shampoo (we love Babyganics)
- 4-5 baby towels
- 4-5 baby wash clothes
- Baby bathtub (we recommend one that includes a sling)
Essential Baby Gear
Of course, we can’t overlook the essential baby gear that every newborn needs:
- Car seat (we recommend buying one car seat and purchasing an additional base if you have two cars in the family)
- Stroller (if you want a smooth ride or plan to take your baby along for a run after their doctor approves, get a jogging stroller)
- Baby swing (stock up on batteries!)
- Baby bouncer seat (our son lived in his for what seemed like an eternity)
11 Things That Our Son Actually Used
Now that you have an essential baby needs checklist in hand (click here and we’ll e-mail you a printable copy right now), the skeptic inside might be wondering, “Is my baby really going to use all of this stuff?”
The answer: It depends.
No two kids are exactly alike, which means you may end up purchasing a few things that don’t get used.
Our best advice: Save receipts and gift receipts for everything.
We were able to return countless unused items for store credit, which really came in handy when we needed a second step car seat or even diapers.
Another tip: If you’re planning to shop online, you’ll save a lot of money if you create a free Ebates account first.
Keeping in mind that your baby might be totally different, here are the things we bought (or received) that our son actually used and loved.
1. Car Seat and Stroller Combo
A good car seat is a given these days, as you won’t be allowed to take your new baby home without one.
(Can you imagine holding a newborn in the front seat like new moms did before car seats evolved into what we have today?!)
We felt beyond safe every time we strapped our son into his Britax B Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat due to its excellent safety ratings and reviews. The fact that it worked seamlessly in tandem with the B Agile jogging stroller was a major bonus.
Pros of the Britax B Safe Travel System
- All components are lightweight and easy to move
- The car seat snaps directly into the stroller, which is convenient for doctor appointments
- The jogging stroller offers a smooth ride, even when going over bumps
- You can purchase an extra car seat base and use the seat in more than one vehicle
- The jogging stroller collapses easily with one hand, so you can do it while holding your baby
Cons of the Britax B Safe Travel System
- There are more affordable systems available (but their ratings are lower)
- The car seat base is challenging to install the first time (but it does get easier)
- The system includes a jogging stroller, which isn’t necessarily a “must-have” for all families
One of our biggest regrets as parents is not registering for a rockaRoo or momaRoo.
They’re that good.
Fortunately, our son got to enjoy time in this rockaRoo every day at his in-home daycare. And let me tell you—he was entranced.
We will definitely be ordering one when we have more kids!
Pros of the rockaRoo
- It creates the natural movements your baby craves
- It allows you to put your baby down to cook dinner, fold laundry, etc.
- When it comes to soothing a fussy baby, nothing compares, in our experience
- The seat cover is removable and machinable washable
- Includes an AC adapter, which means you don’t need batteries
Cons of the rockaRoo
- It must be plugged in to use
- Most models don’t include a recline adjustment
- Most models don’t include a vibration setting
- Many babies outgrow it around 8 months of age
3. Boppy Newborn Lounger
Our son loved to be held, so putting him down was sometimes a challenge.
However, he was almost always content to chill in his Boppy, especially when we read books to him.
Pros of the Boppy Newborn Lounger
- Easy to clean
- Great for play or reading time
Cons of the Boppy Newborn Lounger
- None to report
4. Wubba Pacifiier
Where other traditional pacifiers fall short, Wubba is simply amazing because it won’t fall out of your baby’s mouth. Well, at least not as often as most of the competition!
5. Sleep Sacks
We signed up for new parent classes and learned all of the swaddling techniques, but our son still figured out a way to free himself from even our best swaddles in a matter of minutes
He’s practically baby MacGuyver.
Our son is 18 months old as we write this article, and he still hasn’t figured out how to get out of his sleep sacks.
Pros of Sleep Sacks
- Zippers are much easier to use, especially when you’re changing your baby in the dark
- Keeps your baby warm
Cons of Sleep Sacks
- Unless you have several, you’ll be washing them very frequently
- Your baby may move up in sizes quickly
6. Fischer-Price Deluxe Bouncer
For months after our son was born, we joked that he would probably end up going to college one day in his bouncy seat.
He loved it so much that we eventually borrowed another bouncy seat from a friend so we could keep one upstairs and one downstairs.
Pros of the Fischer-Price Deluxe Bouncer
- Easy to clean
- Engages multiple senses
- Mobile attachment is removable
Cons of the Fischer-Price Deluxe Bouncer
- Your calf muscles will get a workout (maybe this is actually a pro?)
- Taller babies may outgrow this model quickly
7. Sophie the Giraffe
I know, I know. You’re wondering how on Earth a toy giraffe made it on this list.
We were also skeptical of the Sophie hype before our son was born.
But our honest opinion is that Sophie the Giraffe was and is worth every single penny.
There are legitimate reasons you see almost every little baby playing with one these days.
Pros of Sophie the Giraffe
- Made of 100% natural rubber
- A great natural teether for your baby
- Painted with natural food paint
Cons of Sophie the Giraffe
- Poorly timed squeeks may wake your baby
- Paint may fade over time
8. Digital Baby Monitor
It seems like baby monitor features change by the minute. You can get crystal-clear HD monitors, monitors that check your baby’s breathing, and monitors that work with your home’s WiFi connection.
We didn’t choose a monitor with any of those features.
Instead, we selected the Motorola Comfort Digital Baby Monitor.
We liked the fact that it included two cameras that were small enough to move around without sacrificing video or audio quality. And our low-tech system wasn’t easily suspectible to hackers and digital intruders.
Pros of the Motorola Comfort Digital Baby Monitor
- Far more budget-friendly than many competitors
- Easy to move and adjust
- Night vision is clear
- System is secure, as it does not operate via WiFi
Cons of the Motorola Comfort Digital Baby Monitor
- You need the hand-held monitor to view your cameras, as this system does not use an app
- The hand-held monitor only holds a charge for a few hours at a time
9. Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether
We’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts for this toy.
Simply put, it makes our list of essential newborn items because it was our son’s first favorite toy.
He was only a few weeks old when he first figured out how to grip and shake this simple rattle.
It later became an excellent teether, especially when those first few teeth were coming in.
Pros of the Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether
- 100% BPA-free
- Gentle on baby’s gums and teeth
- Easy to grip
Cons of the Winkel Rattle and Sensory Teether
- Hand wash only
- Not safe for steam sanitizers or microwaving
10. Convertible Crib
It took our son a few months to comfortably sleep in his crib. He spent his first few months of naps and overnights in his swing.
But when we finally got him in his crib, he adjusted quickly.
We chose an adjustable and convertible crib like this model based on personal recommendations and have been very satisfied.
Pros of a Convertible Crib
- Can adjust easily and grow with your baby
- Firm flat mattress is safe
- Built to last with real wood construction
Cons of a Convertible Crib
- Assembly and future conversion can be hard to do alone
- Adding baby-safe bumpers is possible but tricky
11. Exergen Temporal Scan Thermometer
If there’s one thing I have gotten really good at in my time as a newer dad, it’s running errands at all hours of the day and night.
Thankfully, I never had to run out in the middle of the night to buy a thermometer because we registered for one.
The Exergen Temporal Scan Thermometer hasn’t let us down, especially when our son had mixed symptoms and we truly needed an accurate temperature reading.
Pros of the Exergen Temporal Scan
- Budget friendly price
- Reliable and trustworthy design gives accurate readings
- Use by simply scanning your baby’s forehead
Cons of the Exergen Temporal Scan
- Temperature readings can be inaccurate if your baby moves while you’re taking their temperature
- Battery life may suffer depending on your house (our first battery is still going strong, but this comes up in Amazon reviews)
Whew! If you made it this far, you should be all set with everything your newborn baby needs.
Don’t forget to download our free printable newborn baby shopping list (just use the form below), and congratulations!