Newborn Checklist: What You Need to Bring Your Baby Home for the First Time
From planning your babymoon to designing the nursery, there’s a lot of information out there about what to do, what not to do, what to buy, what not to buy – and everything in between – while you’re preparing for your new baby.
Making sense of this information overload can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a newborn essentials checklist to help you navigate what items you need to bring your baby home, and the features you should consider to select the products that are right for you.
As you start planning your baby’s layette, remember that your tiny newborn won’t be a newborn for long. Whether you’re registering for clothing or shopping on your own, choose onesies, outfits, and pajamas in a range of sizes so you’ll be set as baby grows.
Be sure to keep the seasons and where you live in mind: for example, if you live in a warm weather climate, you won’t need a snowsuit, but you may want to pick up a baby bathing suit. And while those cute frilly dresses and linen sailor suits make for a great photo opp, they’re not practical. Instead, opt for soft, breathable cotton pieces that will keep your baby comfy and are easy to launder.
Many experienced parents will tell you that an electric baby swing was their secret, weapon for soothing their baby and giving their tired arms a break. That’s because the back-and-forth motion of a swing automatically calms many babies and settles them while they rock. But not all swings are created equal. As you’re shopping for a swing, look for one that offers a range of motions and ergonomic features that will keep your baby upright and safely supported.
Sleep—getting your baby on a schedule and getting enough shut eye yourself—is one of the biggest challenges facing new parents in the days and weeks after they bring their baby home. But this is a situation where the right gear and a good strategy can make all the difference in making it through your baby’s unpredictable and erratic nights.
Set up a bassinet in your bedroom for the first few months to keep baby close by—it’s safer than co-sleeping and will make nighttime feedings a whole lot easier. When choosing a bassinet, look for one that’s loaded with state-of-the-art features that help teach your baby to fall asleep and stay asleep longer, like a range of soothing motions and noises. You might also appreciate a Bluetooth-enabled bassinet so you can turn on sounds and motions from your phone without even having to get out of bed.
Diapers and Wipes
Newborns go through 8-10 diapers a day—that adds up to a lot of diaper changes over the first year! It pays to put a diapering strategy into place before your baby is born, so start with your newborn baby checklist.
As you choose which diapers you will use, look for a brand that’s made with environmentally friendly materials and newborn size diapers that have a cutout notch for the umbilical cord. Stock up on a supply of newborn and size 1 diapers and wipes (you’ll soon learn you can never have too many wipes) so you’re prepared for the first hectic month at home.
If you live in a multi-story house, you may want to set up a diapering station on each floor to minimize the number of times you need to carry your baby up and down the stairs, and stock each diapering station with the supplies you’ll need to care for your baby: diaper cream, lotion, nail scissors, and a change of clothes.
Rear-Facing Car Seat
Many items on your baby registry are nice-to-haves, but a rear-facing car seat is truly an essential. You will need a properly installed car seat to take your baby home from the hospital. The car seat you choose should have basic safety features like a 5-point harness, twist-free straps, and a chest clip.
Some more expensive seats offer additional features, like a padded carrying handle and a lightweight design that makes transporting your baby easier. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you have your baby’s car seat positioned rear-facing until they are two years old, so you may want to consider a convertible car seat that will grow with your baby.
And to avoid unnecessary stress after your baby is born, install the seat before your due date. Many hospitals and fire stations even offer fitting stations to check that the seat is properly installed.
Baby Carrier or Sling
A baby carrier or sling will free up your hands so you can keep your baby close while you shop, clean, take a walk…or any other task on your to-do list. Even better, a baby carrier is not just a convenient, hands-free way to hold your baby: wearing your baby in a sling or carrier can strengthen the bond between you and your baby and help you maintain closeness throughout the fourth trimester. Choose a sling that’s soft and lightweight and positions your baby ergonomically to avoid stress on your baby’s neck and joints.
No doubt about it, you’re going to need a new set of wheels for your baby—and you’ll use it for years as your baby grows from newborn to toddler to big kid. From a barebones umbrella stroller to fully loaded luxury models, strollers have a wide price range.
Consider how you’ll use the stroller to choose one that best fits your lifestyle: if you’re a city dweller who does a lot of walking, you may need a stroller with a large basket to carry everything you need; if you drive everywhere, an easy fold may be your top priority.
Whatever you end up choosing, look for an ergonomic seat that will grow with your baby, a pull-out canopy that will shield them from the sun, a height-adjustable handlebar, washable fabrics, and good quality wheels.
Relax! You’ve Got This!
As you prepare for your baby, things may seem overwhelming—but careful planning and preparation will give you the peace of mind to handle whatever comes your way. Check out our in-depth newborn needs checklist for more baby prep ideas and most importantly, remember to enjoy this time in your life and cherish every special moment along the way.