72 Newborn Essentials and Must-Haves

There’s a lot to do as the birth of your baby nears, and assembling all those necessities for your newborn can be a daunting task. Once you have the essentials, though, you’ll feel more prepared for the day you get to bring your baby home.

But how do you know what you’ll really use right away? Use this newborn baby checklist to discover what you’ll need during your first three months with your baby, as well as some nice-to-haves you might consider getting.

Our list includes must-haves your newborn will need in the nursery; clothing; items for feeding, diapering, and bath time; and helpful gear for when you’re out and about with your little one.

Nursery Checklist

To help you get your baby’s nursery ready, here’s a list of things you may need for your newborn baby:

Crib. When it comes to baby necessities, this one comes near the top of this list. Your baby will need a safe crib to sleep in, and, initially, your newborn will be snoozing at least 16 hours a day, or more! Depending on the crib style you choose, you may be able to get many years of use out of it as many cribs convert into a toddler bed and then a daybed. With cribs, it’s safest to buy new as you can be sure that a new crib meets all the latest safety standards. □ Crib mattress. You’ll need a firm mattress for your baby that fits the crib you’ve bought perfectly. □ Bedding. You won’t need much bedding—just a waterproof mattress cover and several fitted sheets that perfectly fit the crib mattress you’ve chosen. Keeping your baby’s crib bare (free of any other type of bedding, including blankets, top sheets, pillows, and bumper pads, as well as toys) helps reduce the risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). □ Bassinet. This is optional. Because a bassinet can be safely used for only a few weeks, you may prefer to skip this item. Nevertheless, there are lovely bassinets out there, and they do have the benefit of being small and portable so they can more easily fit in your room, as well as be moved from room to room. □ Night light. You’ll be heading into the nursery in the middle of the night to feed your newborn, and a night light lets you see where you’re going and what you’re doing without having to turn on any bright lights. As your little one gets older, a night light may also provide reassurance when she wakes up in the middle of the night. □ White-noise machine or music player. White noise or soft music may help comfort your newborn or even help her fall asleep. □ Humidifier. A humidifier helps moisturize the air. Your baby’s healthcare provider may recommend getting one for the nursey if the air is particularly dry. Avoiding overly dry air may help keep your newborn comfortable, especially if she has a cough or a cold. □ Clothes storage. Even with just the essentials, your newborn’s clothes will need to be stored somewhere. In some cases, the drawers or shelves that come with the changing table may be enough. Alternatively, you can even use baskets or tubs to organize clothes. Drawers or wardrobes are another great option. □ Nursery glider or rocking chair. A comfy chair in the nursery is the perfect spot for breastfeeding, a bedtime story or lullaby, and a last cuddle before sleep. It may help make nighttime feeds less disruptive for your baby, and the rocking motion may help calm your newborn. □ Pacifier. Your newborn may want to suck to soothe herself. Keep in mind that pacifiers have a way of going missing, so you may like to have a few on hand. Pacifiers come in several sizes. Double check that the pacifier you’re considering is right for the newborn stage by following the manufacturer’s guidelines. □ Toy basket. Your baby might acquire some toys, and it's handy to have a toy basket or two. This is optional, of course! If you have shelves already, you can also store toys on the higher shelves. □ Mobile. A colourful mobile (that's safely hung high up, out of reach of your baby) will help entertain your baby. A mobile with a variety of shapes and bright colours (especially red, as it’s the first colour she sees) is a good option.

Playtime Checklist

You have lots of options when it comes to toys and items that will engage your little one. Here are some things you could buy for your baby, or include on your registry, for playtime:

Baby swing. Swings sway or vibrate to help soothe your little one. Unlike a bouncer, a swing typically moves without your newborn having to create the movement with his legs; instead, you use the sway or vibration setting. Keep in mind that baby swings have a minimum and maximum weight limit, so make sure you choose one that will suit your newborn’s size. Swings often have toys that hang overhead to entertain your little one. Some swings can even make sounds or play music. □ Baby bouncer. Bouncers are similar to baby swings, but your baby’s leg movements cause the bouncy movement. Your newborn may enjoy a little time in his bouncer, and it gives you the chance to get things done nearby while knowing your baby is safe and entertained. Bouncers have minimum and maximum weight limits, so take a look at the manufacturer’s guidelines before buying one. Bouncers often come with a mobile that hangs overhead. □ Play mat. Newborns benefit from a little tummy time each day. Place a thin, soft play mat on the floor to give your little one somewhere to enjoy a few minutes of tummy time a couple of times a day. Always closely supervise tummy time. □ Portable play yard. This can provide your newborn with a safe enclosed place to snooze or play, while you do things nearby. A portable play yard is great because you can move it around your home according to which room you’re in. □ Toys. Newborns and very young babies won't enjoy that many toys just yet, other than things like simple rattles or books with high contrast patterns. Before long, soft toys that make sounds, stacking toys, push-pull toys, and busy boxes with lots of exciting features can be good choices to help entertain and your older baby's development. With all baby toys it’s important to ensure there are no small parts that could be a choking hazard.

Feeding Checklist

Burp cloths. These are designed to protect your clothing when you burp your little one, in case she spits up a little (or a lot!). You could also use a receiving blanket for this, but a burp cloth is smaller, making it easier to manage. □ Nursing cover. A nursing cover helps cover you and your little one while you are breastfeeding. It typically comes with a strap you can tie around your neck to help keep it in place. You can also use a receiving blanket as a nursing cover, but as it doesn’t have a strap it may slip off more easily. □ Receiving blankets. A receiving blanket is a thin blanket that often comes in packs of two or more. These versatile blankets can work as a nursing cover or burping cloth. A receiving blanket can also be used as a swaddle blanket. □ Nursing pillow. For some extra comfort for both you and your little one, consider getting one of these U-shaped cushy pillows. These firm pillows give your newborn somewhere extra to rest on other than your arms, and this can also take some of the weight off your arms, too. □ Bibs. Bibs can help protect your little one’s clothes from milk, formula, and drool. □ Bottles and nipples. Whether you plan to breastfeed or formula feed, some baby bottles are must-haves. There are glass and plastic options. Some of the plastic ones even come with a bottle liner insert to reduce the amount of air your newborn swallows. When choosing a bottle, consider the nipple shape and size, too. You may need to try a few different nipple ends before finding one your newborn likes. □ Breast pump. You can use a manual pump or one that's electric or battery-powered to express breast milk when needed, such as if you return to work or if you’ll be away from your newborn for longer stretches. Some models pump both breasts at the same time. □ Formula. Your baby’s healthcare provider can help you choose from the many types and brands available. □ Bottle warmer. It can be tricky to get your baby’s stored breast milk or formula at just the right temperature. A bottle warmer can help ensure it’s evenly warmed. □ Milk storage bags. These little bags help you compactly store breast milk. They are usually one-time use products but might help you store milk without using your bottles for storage purposes. You can usually pump directly into the bag. □ Bottle brush. This will help you thoroughly clean the inside of the bottle. □ Bottle sterilizer. You may like the convenience of a sterilizer to keep things like bottles and nipples hygienic, though washing them thoroughly by hand or in the dishwasher works just as well. Some sterilizers come combined with a bottle warmer. □ Bottle-drying rack. This is not an essential item, but can help if you’d like a designated space to dry your baby’s bottles, or if you don’t tend to have much room left on your dish-drying rack.

Newborn essentials checklist

Diapering Checklist

Here is a comprehensive list of the items you’ll need (or might like to have) for diapering your baby:

Changing table. You’ll need a safe space to change your little one’s diaper. Changing tables usually have drawers or shelves so that you can reach things like diapers, wipes, and fresh clothes without taking your hand off your baby. Just make sure these items aren’t within your newborn’s reach. Some changing tables come with a strap you can use to help secure your baby and prevent falls, in case he rolls over unexpectedly. Even if you've fastened the strap, always keep at least one hand on your newborn whenever he is on a raised surface. □ Changing pad. To keep your baby more comfortable and to keep the changing table clean, having a changing pad helps. Some can be wiped clean, and others have removable covers you can machine wash. □ Diapers. You’ll definitely need diapers, and lots of them! Your newborn may go through something like 70 diapers a week. It’s impossible to know ahead of time what size diaper your newborn will need, so it’s worth buying small packs of a few different sizes. Choose between Swaddlers, Baby-Dry, and Cruisers 360° Fit. Then, once your baby is born you can stock up on more of the right size. Read about how to select the right diaper size. □ Wipes. Gently clean your newborn’s diaper area with wipes. Select from Pure Protection, Aqua Pure, and Pampers Sensitive. □ Washcloths. Wet a washcloth with warm water and you can use it to wipe your baby’s diaper area. You can also use a washcloth for cleaning your baby at bath time. □ Diaper rash cream. It’s not uncommon for babies to get diaper rash from time to time. Ask your baby’s healthcare provider for advice on which cream or ointment is best. □ Diaper pail. You’ll want somewhere to throw your baby’s dirty diapers to contain the odors. A diaper pail is great because it helps prevent smells from leaking out. Place your diaper pail right by the changing table so you don’t have to leave your baby’s side while disposing of the used diaper. There are many diaper pails on the market. A key choice is whether you want one that works with regular trash can liners, or if you want one that can only be used with the special liner rings that the manufacturer sells separately. The special liners are better at trapping odors, but will cost more over the long run.

Related diapering tool

Diaper Size Calculator

Find out your baby's diaper size, how many diapers you'll need per day and for how long:

Select your baby's weight in pounds

Clothing Checklist

It’s fun to shop for (or be given) adorable, mini size baby clothes. Keep in mind that newborns quickly grow out of smaller-sized clothes—sometimes in a matter of days—so you may prefer to buy bigger sizes that your newborn can grow into.

Your newborn will need to wear layers, unless it’s particularly warm. It’s usually best to dress your newborn in one more layer than you are wearing yourself.

These are the things to buy for your baby’s wardrobe:

Swaddle blanket. During the first few weeks, you may wish to swaddle your baby, and a special blanket may make the process easier. Although you can use a receiving blanket, there are other options available including ones that have a hook-and-loop fastener. □ Pajamas or sleepers or sleeping sacks. Your baby will spend much of her time snoozing and will need something to wear. Whatever type of sleepwear you choose, you'll probably want a style that covers your baby's feet—some pajamas do, as do sleepers and sleeping sacks. Some sleeping sacks are designed so that your baby also wears pajamas underneath. □ Undershirts and one-piece outfits. Some of these close with snaps between the legs, which is great as it means easy access to the diaper area for diaper changes. Depending on what the weather will be, choose something with short sleeves or long sleeves, and choose between ones that keep your newborn’s legs entirely exposed or the full-body ones that cover the legs and feet. □ T-shirts. During the day, if you plan to dress your newborn in leggings or pants, you’ll need tops such as T-shirts to go with them. □ Leggings or stretchy pants. Either style is great for keeping your newborn comfy. □ Sweater or jacket. To keep your little one warm, you'll want to add a sweater or jacket. Cardigans and jackets are easier to take off than pullover sweaters, and can be left open at the front if the weather is in between. □ Socks or booties. You’ll need lots of socks and maybe some booties. Your newborn doesn’t need real shoes yet—these won't be necessary until she starts walking. □ Hat with brim. This will help protect your little one from the sun. □ Knit hat or cap. If it will be cold when your baby is born, have one of these on hand to ensure her head is kept nice and warm. □ Bunting bag or snowsuit. Another cold weather item you'll want to have. Some designs even come with attached mittens. □ Mittens. Great for the cooler months. □ Special outfit. Optional. If there's a holiday or special occasion coming up, you might like a nice outfit for your newborn. Just keep in mind that your baby will soon outgrow what she's wearing, so take lots of pictures while you can!

Bath Time Checklist

During your baby’s first year, he’ll may need only about three baths a week. Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need for bath time in the first few months:

Baby bath seat or tub. You'll be giving sponge baths to your newborn at first (until the cord stump has fallen off) but you'll soon need some sort of seat or tub for bathing. Just make sure it works for newborns or that it comes with a newborn insert to suit your baby’s small size. □ Shampoo. Shampoo that is designed for newborns can be used to wash your newborn’s hair—if he has any. □ Soap. Choose a mild soap designed especially for newborns and young babies. □ Cup. A plastic scoop or cup can be used to gently pour water over your baby’s hair or skin to rinse out the soap or shampoo. Just be extra careful not to get soapy water in your little one’s eyes. □ Towels. Buy a soft towel—perhaps even one that comes with a hood for easier drying. □ Washcloths. These can help with gently wiping your baby. □ Baby moisturizer. A newborn doesn't usually need special lotions but if there are drier patches of skin you can apply a non-perfumed baby moisturizer.

Baby necessities

On-the-Go Checklist

You might be surprised by how much you need when you take your newborn out. Here is a checklist of all the gear you might need when you’re out and about with your baby:

Car seat. Your baby will need to ride in a car seat from the first hospital ride home and every time she rides in the car thereafter. You’ll need a rear-facing car seat that meets the latest safety standards and that is suitable for your newborn’s size and weight. Ensure the car seat is properly fitted to your car, and installed facing the back, before your due date. □ Stroller. There are many stroller styles on the market, including car seat carrier strollers, travel systems, and full-sized strollers, all of which can work from the newborn stage. Check that the stroller meets the latest safety standards. □ Baby carrier or wrap. This item can be super useful to keep your baby close as you move around, while also leaving you with your hands free. Baby carriers come in several styles, including wraps, slings, front packs, and backpacks. Keep in mind that some baby carriers need a newborn insert to be used safely. Follow the latest safety guidelines when using your carrier. □ Diaper bag. You’ll need one that will fit all the things you need when you’re away from home with your little one. Diaper bags come in designs that range from functional to fashionable. With a backpack diaper bag, for example, you won’t even look like you’re carrying baby gear. □ Sun shade for car windows. Your newborn should be kept out of direct sunlight to protect her skin. You might like to cover the back-seat windows of your car with a shade cover to keep your newborn out of the blazing sun. □ Portable crib. If you’re planning to travel or take your little one to grandma’s, you might like to have a portable crib so that your baby can sleep comfortably and safely. Check the portable crib you’re considering meets the latest safety standards. □ Portable changing pad. A portable changing pad can help ensure you have somewhere clean to change your little one’s diapers. The pads usually roll up quite compactly so they fit in most diaper bags. □ Disposable diaper pail. These are great for having somewhere to store your baby’s dirty diapers, no matter where you are. □ Stroller rain cover. You may like to buy this accessory when you select a stroller. If the manufacturer doesn’t sell one, universal models are available.

Health and Safety Checklist

It’s good to have some essentials at home in case you need to take your little one’s temperature or put an adhesive bandage on a small scratch. These are some basic items to have at home:

First-aid kit. You'll want to have basic items at home like a baby thermometer, tweezers, antibiotic ointment, adhesive bandages, and petroleum jelly, all in one place. You may wish to have another first-aid kit in the car or in the diaper bag so that you have some of these essentials when you’re on the go as well. □ Bulb syringe. This can help gently remove mucus from your baby’s nose. □ Nail clippers or a soft emery board. Your little one’s nails will need trimming from time to time, and doing this will also help prevent him scratching himself. □ Soft-bristled hairbrush. Even if your little one doesn’t have much hair, a brush can help loosen scales if your newborn ends up with cradle cap. □ Sunscreen. Generally speaking, your little one should be kept out of direct sunlight for at least the first six months. However, a little sunscreen may be applied to exposed small areas like the face and hands if adequate clothing and/or shade isn't available. □ Gentle detergent. This can be used to wash all of your newborn’s clothes and bedding for the first few months. If your baby’s skin shows any signs of irritation, you can try a hypoallergenic detergent, perhaps one designed especially for babies. □ Babyproofing accessories. Although your newborn won’t be independently moving around for a while, you may want to tackle some babyproofing chores ahead of time. Check out our babyproofing guides for comprehensive information on what to do and what you'll need, including things like baby gates, outlet covers, corner guards, and childproof locks for cupboards and doors.

The Bottom Line

Preparing for the arrival of your newborn can be both fun and exhausting. By following this checklist, you’ll be sure to have all the things you’ll need for your newborn baby.

If you're still working on your baby shower registry, you might like to add some of these items, so that your loved ones know what you actually need.