Your Newborn Essentials Checklist

Picking out all of your new baby’s gear is one of the most exciting parts of prepping for his arrival. (The cute toys! The tiny socks!) Here’s a checklist of the mom-approved essentials and fun extras you’ll need to make your newborn’s first year healthy, happy, and as low-stress as possible. 

The basics

  • A crib. Updated safety guidelines now prohibit the sale of drop-side rail cribs, so a new crib is essential for baby safety. Make sure crib slats are no more than 2 3/8 inches apart and that all joints and parts fit together tightly. If you have a crib that was made before June 2011, find out if the manufacturer offers hardware you can install to help keep the drop-side from moving.
  • A car seat. Federal law won’t let you bring your newborn home without one, so having a car seat is definitely a newborn essential. Babies and toddlers age 2 and under should ride in a rear-facing seat, which will help support your little one’s neck, head, and spine in the event of a crash.
  • Clothing and accessories. Newborns don’t need much in the fashion department, but there are a few must-haves. You can never have enough side-snap shirts and bodysuits (onesies) in size 0-3 months. It’s also a good idea to stock up on receiving blankets that double as burp clothes and changing pads. And when it comes to sleeping sacks, hats, and socks, let’s just say you can never have too many.   
  • Plastic bottles and nipples. Have plenty of 4-ounce bottles for your newborn, and get 8-ounce bottles for when he gets bigger. The safest bottles are made from glass or certified BPA-free plastic.
  • A changing station with diapers and wipes. You’ll change a whopping 3,000 diapers in your baby’s first year alone, making a sturdy changing table a must. Look for one with 2-inch raised guardrail around all four sides. Make your life easier by stocking it with plenty of good-quality diapers and baby wipes.
  • A thermometer. Rectal thermometers will give the most accurate readings, but forehead-scanning thermometers and thermometers that go under your baby’s arm or in her ear also get the job done. Whichever kind you choose, make sure it’s digital: Mercury thermometers are dangerous, since they could lead to accidental mercury exposure or poisoning.

The extras

  • A front carrier. Wearing your baby is a cuddly way to keep him close while you go about your day. It can also help soothe him when he’s fussy, and it might even boost his brain development. A wrap or a more structured carrier is equally good, as long as you make sure it supports your baby’s head. 
  • A stroller. Options abound, and the stroller you buy should meet your lifestyle. (If you’re a runner, for instance, a jogging stroller could be a nice choice.) No matter what kind you opt for, make sure it has a seat belt and harness, easy-to-use brakes, and a wide base that won’t topple over. 
  • A baby swing. In a matter of minutes, the soothing rocking motion of a baby swing can turn your crying baby into a happy, sleepy one. That’s music to a new mom’s ears.
  • A cool mist humidifier. Keep it in your baby’s nursery to help him breathe easier when he gets a cold. To stave off bacteria growth, empty the humidifier when it’s not in use. Clean it regularly according to the model instructions.  
  • A baby tub. A large plastic washtub makes life easy, but for newborns, the kitchen sink works just as well. Just make sure the faucet’s out of the way and the dishwasher is turned off. 

Having a new baby can be overwhelming, but stick with this newborn essentials checklist and you’ll be more than prepared.