If you do a search for newborn baby gear, you’ll find endless lists of “must-haves.” Well, here comes another! We made the decision to not publish our registry or set up the nursery until after baby had arrived. While this was stressful, it also made me laser-focused on what we absolutely needed right off the bat, and what could wait.
You can find tons of great baby gear through local “Buy Nothing” groups. A car seat is the only baby gear item I would NOT recommend getting secondhand, as it’s too hard to verify all the safety protocols are still up to the standard.
This list is what worked for us–trust your gut on what you need for your family!
🟪 Car Seat – you will need this to leave the hospital. We have the Nuna Pipa and it’s been a great infant car seat. This (and tons of others) are usually included in the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale–a total gold mine for baby gear! I added LulaClips to help keep the straps out of the way when placing baby into the car seat.
🟪 Stroller – we have the Mockingbird and are really happy with it. It is very similar to the Uppababy Vista, but I like that everything is a la carte and direct to consumer (lower price). The Mockingbird has tons of storage space underneath, lots of optional accessories (which yes we bought all of them) and it drives nicely. It also can convert to a double stroller later if you’re looking for that option. It is a little bulky when folded, so it wouldn’t be great for traveling, but it’s perfect for what we need (we don’t have a car and it functions as our own little minivan 😂). It’s compatible for use with tons of car seats with the proper adapter. You can also try it out for 30 days and return it if you change your mind.
🟪 Baby Carrier – We got the Beco Gemini carrier. While I loved carrying Emmie, she grew really fast (doubling her birth weight by 8 weeks 🐣) and it put too much strain on my still-healing body. Even though baby-wearing didn’t work for me, I did really like that the Beco Gemini offers nice weight distribution and comfy, padded straps!
🟪 Diapers – Diapers, diapers, and more diapers! Those first few weeks babies can go through 8 – 12 diapers per day. PER DAY. Every tushie is different but we’ve liked Pampers Swaddlers. Try to resist stockpiling larger sizes (they are bulky to store), and focus on size NB and 1 to get started. The chart below is a nice jumping off point, but every baby is different! Emmie was born weighing 7lbs 9oz and wore NB diapers for a few weeks. By 2 months old, she had doubled her birth weight and we were just about in size 2. Now at 6 months old, she is wearing size 4–we’ll see how long that lasts 🤷♀️ Download the Pampers App to scan in rewards code for rebates!
🟪 Baby Wipes – We use Pampers Baby Wipes Sensitive Perfume Free, and they work well for us!
🟪 Diaper Cream – Ask 10 moms which diaper cream they use, and you’ll get 10 different answers. We tried a few and just regular Aquaphor Baby worked best for us. The best advice I can offer here is, after using a baby wipe, wait a few seconds for the skin to dry before applying anything. To pass the delirious time here, I made up the appropriately titled song, “Bare Bottom Time.” 🎶 It’s bare bottom time, let that tushie dryyyy… 🎶 you get the idea. I sang it twice, it made both of us smile, and by the end of the song, I knew she had a dry tush! Aquaphor etc on wet skin traps the moisture and can cause a diaper rash. Learned that one by trial and error 🤦♀️
🟪 Changing Setup – While you do need a little setup for diapering, you do not need a formal changing table right at the beginning. A soft towel or blanket on a stable surface will work just fine! We started out with a makeshift setup and the only notable difference is the height. Hunching over was pretty hard on my body, so doing this over, I might make a different choice here. One little trick we picked up along the way is that while you are still getting the hang of diapering, put wee wee pads on top of the changing pad. We put down two horizontally–one for spit up and one for diaper spills. This will save you a few urgent loads of laundry!
🟪 Diaper Pail – You can definitely just use a regular garbage at first. We have the Munchkin Diaper Pail and it’s great. Locks smells inside and does what it’s supposed to do.
🟪 Diaper Bag – They need so little at first, so don’t stress out on this one. The first time we went to the pediatrician, I literally put some diapers, wipes, a travel Aquaphor and some spare jammies into a ziploc bag. We have one from Pottery Barn. To be honest, we still aren’t really out and about, so I haven’t fully tested its function yet.
🟪 Bassinet or Crib – We used a Halo BassiNest (in our bedroom) and a BabyBjorn Travel Crib (in the living room). This setup was really helpful for ensuring we had multiple safe sleep options for baby, and whoever wasn’t watching her could get some actual rest. One nice feature of the BassiNest is that it vibrates. Do you need to pay extra for that feature? No. Could you jerry-rig a new “personal massager” to the underside of a regular bassinet and get the same result? You sure could.
🟪 White Noise Machine – This is in everyone’s best interest! Your baby just spent the last nine months listening to lots of weird noises while he/she slept. A white noise machine helps mimic the environment of the womb and is an important sleep aid. Separately, newborns make tons of weird noises*, especially when they sleep. A white noise machine will help you sleep a little better if you choose to room-share. You can easily invest a lot of money in fancy sound machines that offer tons of features. We bought a few of the Letsfit White Noise Machines which are inexpensive and work perfectly.
If you are concerned about the decibel level of your sound machine, download the Decibel X app.
*If you hear any concerning sounds or you just aren’t sure, don’t be shy and speak with your pediatrician.
🟪 Sleep Sacks / Swaddles – I highly recommend the Halo SleepSack Swaddle or SwaddleMe Swaddles. Both are very “tired parent friendly!” Emmie wasn’t much of a swaddle gal, but I liked that these use velcro or zippers, and both have “arms out” options. Three seems to be the magical number of how many of each type of thing you need. One on the baby, one in the laundry, and one spare.
Traditional swaddle blankets and other baby blankets are a very popular gift, so definitely pick out any that you love, but don’t worry about stocking up. For storage, I repurposed an over-the-door shoe organizer for our swaddle blanket collection!
Babies typically transition out of (arms in) swaddles by 8 weeks. The Baby Merlin’s Magic Suit is a great next step before a sleep sack. It lessens the Moro reflex and is nice and cozy. We started using it around 4 months and wish we’d thought to try it sooner! After that, we love Dreamland Sleep Sack (enjoy $10 off your first order through this link), and Kyte Baby Sleep Bags (enjoy $10 off your first order of $50+ through this link).
🟪 Breastfeeding Pillow – I loved My Brest Friend! It wraps around you and fastens which gives you lumbar support and means you don’t need to worry about the pillow slipping/moving around. It’s especially helpful for the early days when you’re exhausted/recovering and the baby is extra tiny. I bought a soft cover for it, and then I also bought the waterproof cover. The waterproof cover snugly fits underneath the soft cover and protects the actual pillow from the blowouts that will happen on it. I also tried the Boppy breastfeeding pillow and personally felt like I had a hard time keeping it in place.
🟪 Burp Cloths – I like Babebay burp cloths–they’re a nice size, soft, and pretty thick. You’ll get surprised at some point down the line that you have a burp cloth preference.
🟪 Formula Samples – You just never know, and isn’t it better to already have samples on-hand? Sign up with Enfamil to receive your free coupons and samples.
🟪 Bottle Box – In keeping with “you just never know,” some babies are super picky about which bottle they’ll take. Rather than spending tons of money up front, I recommend a variety box like the Babylist Bottle Box. See how it goes, and then you can stock up from there.
I had a blip when I was six days postpartum and was readmitted to the hospital for a day. With the pandemic, Emmie and Alex weren’t allowed at the hospital, which left Alex on his own, to figure out giving formula and a bottle to our previously exclusively breastfed baby. We were extremely thankful to have the formula and bottles at home.
You could add a bottle warmer here, but you can also warm bottles by placing the bottle in a bowl or glass of warm water. I would recommend waiting to see how bottles fit into your life before adding it. We have the Kiinde Kozi Bottle Warmer which works well. Before you order a bottle warmer, confirm that it is compatible with the bottles you are using.
🟪 Bottle Lawn – Having a dedicated baby stuff drying rack is so helpful for the early days (and kind of forever). We have the Boon Lawn and it works perfectly.
🟪 Breast Pump – You can order a free (or subsidized) breast pump through your insurance! I did everything through Aeroflow Breast Pumps and couldn’t have been easier. I picked the Spectra S2 Plus which works just fine and was free through insurance. Consider if you’d like the option to have battery power (like the Spectra S1 Plus), or if you’d prefer to be able to pump discreetly and on the go, with a wearable pump (like the Elvie or Willow). There are tons of options for pumps and I kind of went with an eenie meenie decision.
Tip: Once baby will take a bottle, have your partner/caregiver/friend give baby a bottle of pumped breastmilk/formula during one of the overnight feeds. This gives you one longer stretch of sleep and is also a nice bonding experience for your partner.
🟪 Haakaa – The Haakaa was a huge help for me in the early days of breastfeeding. It’s a silicone manual breast pump that suctions to your breast and can passively collect milk. Translation: sometimes when you’re feeding on one side, you can leak on the other side. The Haakaa catches the leaking milk so you can save it!
🟪 Nipple Cream – I used Lansinoh Lanolin religiously after every feed in the early days. It tremendously helped heal my very angry nipples. You do not need to wash it off before nursing! Aquaphor also helped a lot!
🟪 Nipple Pads – Cooling gel nipple pads provided an important barrier between my nipples and my nursing bra or shirt. I also dealt with leaking breasts in between feeds, and these helped absorb! I found the disposable ones to be a little itchy for me.
🟪 Highchair – You won’t need this until 4 – 6 months, but this is a good registry item. We have the 4Moms Highchair and so far so good! I love that it’s super easy to wipe clean and the tray releases with one hand. Other popular highchairs are the Stokke Tripp Trapp Chair (this one converts into a toddler/child seat later on) and the IKEA Antilop Highchair (check out Yeah Baby Goods who specializes in fun accessories for the IKEA Antilop) .
🟪 Bathing Supplies – In the early days, you need very little in this department. It’s recommended to do washcloth “wipe downs” while the umbilical cord stump is still attached. We put baby on a soft towel on the bathroom counter, did warm water wipe downs with soft bamboo washcloths, and made a baby burrito with a hooded towel. We skipped the soap at first and just used lotion afterwards. Emmie arrived with a full head of hair, so we got a baby brush that has worked well!
After baby’s umbilical cord fell off, we transitioned to the Skip Hop Moby Tub. I really like that it offers different configurations depending on the baby’s size. Knee/Elbow cushions make all the difference!
Lotions and soaps takes a little trial and error–don’t stock up right away until you see how it works for your baby’s skin. For soaps, I tried Weleda, Noodle & Boo, Burt’s Bees Sensitive, and Pipette Fragrance Free. Pipette was the winner for us, but again, this comes down to preference and what works best for your baby’s skin. Click here for $5 off your first Pipette order. For lotions, I tried Weleda, Pipette, Aquaphor, and VaniCream. VaniCream has been great for Emmie and has worked well for dry winter skin.
Random PSA: wash and dry behind your baby’s knees. Whoops, sorry baby 🙈
Also, Pipette’s Cream to Powder is amazing for keeping folds (and multiple chins) dry and irritation free!
Health & Safety
🟪 Thermometer – The Vicks Rectal Thermometer is the winner for me! Because of its shape, there’s no concern of inserting it too far and it only takes a 10 seconds to get the reading!
🟪 Frida Baby Basics Box – This box is such a lifesaver! It has the Nose Frida (hello, snot sucker), the NailFrida (nail clippers and file), the DermaFrida (cradle cap brush), and the Windi (a gas passer).
🟪 Dryer Sheets – I use Bounce Free and Gentle
🟪 Stain Spray – 🚨 Alert 🚨 baby poop will stain no matter how quickly you rinse it if you don’t treat it. I rinse it, treat both sides of the spot with OxyClean Baby Stain Remover and let it sit for 24 hours. Then launder! OxyClean Baby Stain Soaker is also great for food stains, and the blue Dawn Dish Soap is amazing for Aquaphor stains.
🟪 Laundry Bag – Mesh laundry bags are a huge help for tiny scratch mittens or socks which can get caught in the dryer!
Of all things, how to properly dress a newborn is the one that stressed me out the most. Don’t go crazy and buy tons of NB sized clothes–they wear them for such a short time!
The rule of thumb for dressing new babies, is they need one more layer than you need. If you’re comfortable in a t-shirt, they should be comfortable in something with long sleeves, etc (this is based on the recommended room temperature of 68 – 72 degrees).
🟪 Side Snap Shirts with Foldover Cuffs – Keeps the healing belly button safe, you don’t need to manage over-the-head clothing, and protects them from scratches. I love Carter’s for early days clothes! Nice and soft, and a great price point for the short period of time they’re in tiny sizes.
For later on, the onesies or shirts with the little flaps at the top (like these) mean that you can take it off by pulling it down off of baby, rather than back over his/her head. This is huge in a diaper blowout situation!
🟪 Footie Pants – Warm tootsies without wrangling baby socks!
🟪 Snap or Zip Up Footie Pajamas with Foldover Cuffs – This is going to be controversial, but I actually prefer snap up pajamas. Hear me out! You don’t need to get baby naked for a diaper change, and sometimes the zippers don’t lay flat and wind up in the baby’s face. I briefly thought I loved 2-way zipper pajamas but if there’s a diaper situation while you’re changing baby and the zippers are at the top, you’ll need to zip them all the way back in, in order to get them out of the pjs.
Carters pjs are excellent for the early days, and when they’re a little bigger, my favorite pajama brands are Kyte Baby and Giggle. They are a bit pricier, but they’re so well made and super soft. Kyte also makes great drool bibs!
🟪 Hats – We were lucky Emmie was born in the Summer, because I was terrible at figuring out putting hats on her 😅 Especially in chilly weather etc hats are encouraged to keep baby warm and cozy. Important to note that hats or hair accessories should not be worn during sleep.
I underestimated how important it is to have options for safe places to put the baby down. You can absolutely make it work with all of these, none of these, other things–you get the picture. Just make sure you have alternatives to your arms 🤗
🟪 Swing – We used a hand-me-down Snugabunny Swing and it’s excellent!! It takes up a lot of space, but it’s totally worth it.
🟪 Bouncer – The Baby Bjorn Bouncer wins MVP of our baby gear. It’s safe to use starting at 8 lbs, and is lightweight so you can easily move it to wherever you need it (always take the baby out of the bouncer prior to moving it). The toy bar is an excellent upgrade.
Life hack: this is how you make a sandwich or pee hands-free. OK zero judgement if you eat a sandwich while you pee. Whatever works. Once the baby is a little bigger, move the bouncer into the bathroom, turn on a fun baby playlist ⬇️ and you can shower/playing peek-a-boo with the shower curtain.
🟪 Lounger – We got a Snuggle Me Organic lounger (similar to a DockATot or a Boppy Lounger) and baby loved it but grew out of it super fast. All of the loungers are excellent for supervised napping etc but are not approved for “safe sleep.” For any lounger, put something waterproof under the soft cover!
🟪 Activity Gym / Playmat – You can’t really go wrong here. For the first few months, the activity gym will largely be for tummy time, and will then become a whole world of fun! Ours is from The White Company and is perfect.
🟪 Jumper – You won’t need this until baby has full head control, but this is another good registry item! We have a Jumperoo and Emmie has a blast in it!
🟪 Mylicon – These gas drops are magical. This is the product I wish I had known about sooner.
🟪 Tracking App – We use the free version of Huckleberry and it’s great. You can track as much or as little as you want. It’s super helpful to keep track of early diapers etc. After that, time melts together and it’s so helpful to look and see how long baby’s been awake or when he/she ate last etc. You can also track temperatures or medicines. We share one login so one parent can start a sleep and the other can stop it.
🟪 Magic Baby Hold – Your baby is going to be a perfect angel who sleeps on command and never cries. Just in case that isn’t always true, check out the Magic Baby Hold–it earned its name!
Every baby is different, but this is what worked for us! In just a few months, you’ll have your own list of newborn baby gear that you’ll be eager to share.
Getting ready to welcome your new peanut? Check out the New Mom Survival Guide: Hospital Bag Checklist
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