Congratulations! If you are reading this, you are probably expecting. How are you feeling? I hope your pregnancy is going well.
When you are expecting, thinking about what you need to get for your bundle of joy is both exciting and overwhelming. You don't want to get too much because you don't want your place to overcrowded with baby stuff, yet you don't want to be unprepared when your baby arrives.
So I have compiled 2 lists: what you NEED to get, and what would be NICE TO HAVE. This list is based on my personal experience plus the recommendations of other mothers. So here it goes.
What you NEED to get
For the Nursery
Crib/Cot - Whether you want your baby to sleep next to your bed, or in their own room. This item is essential. You just have to decide whether you want to buy a cosleeping cot or one for the baby's own room. If you are getting a crib for your baby's room, I would recommend getting one that can turn into a Child's bed afterward, because it will be easier for your child with the crib to bed transition.
Baby Mattress - Yes the mattress does not come with the crib - annoying I know. The good thing is you can choose a mattress you like. Just make sure the mattress is not too small for your crib.
Changing Table - Yes technically you can change your baby anywhere, but I have put this in my essential list because for the sake of your back. I would recommend getting one that is a drawer with a removal changing top because they do grow out of it after a few months. Having a changing table was so useful, and does make it a lot easier. Now that Joshua is nearly one, I have to change him in the playpen. It is fine, but it does hurt my back sometimes as I am constantly crouching down.
Rocking Chair or Armchair - A Newborn baby eats around 1-2 hours if you are purely breastfeeding or once every 3-4 hours if you are bottle-feeding or pumping. So needless to say, you don't always want to bring the baby out to the living room or another room to feed him, especially in the middle of the night. If you have space for a rocking chair, that will be useful the help soothe the baby to sleep. However, if you don't, a normal armchair will still be great.
Baby monitor - By far the most used item since Joshua is born. Get one that you can easily move from one room to another. So you can use it in the living room during the day and the bedroom and night and nap times. (We use Nanit)
Sheets - Ideally 3 sets, but 2 will also be fine if you do the laundry frequent enough.
Waterproof Mattress Protector - Your Little One is bound to have a little accident at some point, so best to have one if you want the mattress to last longer.
Swaddles or Sleepsack - When you leave the hospital, you will need need to wrap your bundle of joy in a swaddle or sleepsack to leave. A large square muslin cloth works great, however, if you are in a colder country then you will want something a bit warmer. If your baby likes being swaddled, this is a great way to make them feel more secure and sleep better. Joshua was such a good little sleeper when he was swaddled, too bad he has outgrown it now. You can check out my Swaddle Review to see which one is most suitable for you.
What you need at Home
Changing Mat - You will actually need a few of these, 3 - 6 depending on how often you do the laundry. In the first few months of your baby's life, they will just pee or poop anytime anywhere. There have been many times when I am in the middle of changing Joshua and he just decided it was a great time to pee or do an exploding poo! I have two types of changing mats, one for home use and one for when I am out and about. The ones I have at home are machine washable, while the ones I bring out with me are the wipe-clean ones.
Baby Bathtub or Bath Support - I have used both and I think both works well. The good thing about a Baby Bathtub is that you can put the bathtub on a tabletop, so you don't have to lean down to bath your baby. (Better for your back) The bath support is good because you can use it in your bath and you can use it for a longer time. With baby bathtubs they can grow out of it quite quickly, depending on your child's growth.
Baby gym - Very useful to entertain your little one during the day. Even though they do sleep most of the time when they are newborn, but when they are awake, you can always lie them down in the baby gym to stimulate them, and for tummy time.
Bouncer - Depending on the bouncer you buy, some of them you can start when they are newborn. Some even rock themselves, so your baby can just drift off to sleep without you rocking them.
Sterilizer - Whether you go for a UV one or Steam one, you need one, especially if you are bottle feeding. My UV sterilizer is one of my most used items at home because I even put his toys in to be sterilized.
A few bottles - In case your baby has trouble latching, or your need to rest, so someone else can help out. Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, you will still need to pump, so you will need bottles to feed your baby with it after.
Baby Bottle Washing up Liquid - Ok I know some mums just use normal washing up liquid, but I always prefer using organic baby bottle washing up liquid because I do worry about chemicals leaching on the bottles, especially the nipples.
Bottle Brush - Most bottle brush comes with a smaller brush so you can wash the inside of the nipples. They don't have to be expensive, as they do wear out after a while. I change mine around every 3 months or so.
Bottle Warmer - Unless you are planning to exclusively breastfeed until your baby doesn't need milk anymore, you will need a bottle warmer. I used it a lot to warm up breastmilk too when I was still pumping.
Highchair - This item you actually don't need straight away, so you can wait until your little one is around 2 - 3 months before you purchase a highchair. As your little one sleeps so much during the first 2 months, chances are, they are not going to be using the highchair much even with the newborn insert. Although I know some parents want to train their little one early to be sociable during mealtime.
For when you are Out & About
A Good Diaper Bag - Get a diaper bag that you really LOVE, because that will be your everyday bag for a while. I use to think it was absurd to get a really expensive diaper bag, after all, it is just a diaper bag. However, after only a few months, I took the plunge and invested in a really nice leather diaper bag from Mina Baie, and I have not looked back since. It was one of the best buys I have purchased since I had Joshua. I love that bag so much and I use it even when I don't take Joshua out with me. If you are only going to get one diaper bag, get a unisex looking one, so your husband won't mind using it too.
Baby Carseat - Unless you live in Hong Kong, you will need one when your baby leaves the hospital. I would recommend getting one that can be attached to a stroller, so if your baby is asleep, you can just clip the car seat onto the stroller. Less chance of waking up the baby and a sleeping baby means a peaceful time for mummy and daddy.
Stroller - Some mums say you will need two strollers, they are not wrong, but I will say the second stroller is a "nice to have" than an essential. If I only have budget for one, then I will get a stroller that has interchangeable parts, so I can use it for a longer period of time. There are brands that have newborn bassinets, seats, and adapters for a car seat as well, such as the Bugaboo, Babyzen, and Quinny.
Baby Carrier - Whether you are thinking of getting a soft baby carrier, a sling, or a structured one, I would recommend getting one. When they are newborns, it is actually a lot easier taking them out in a carrier than a stroller. Joshua pretty much lived in the Konny baby carrier for the first 5 months, as he just wants to be carried. Also, it is the best way to get your baby to sleep if he/she refuses to. You can read my blog post - Baby Carrier Review to see which ones are most suited for you.
Thin Changing Pad - It is always good to bring your own changing pad because you don't know how clean the changing tables are outside. There are some really thin and compact ones, so it doesn't take up a lot of space.
If you are having a Winter Baby
Stroller blanket - If you are a very active mum who loves to go out all the time, then best to get a stroller blanket. There are some that you can use for both stroller and carrier.
Carrier blanket - if you prefer carrying your baby then in a stroller, then it will be helpful to get a carrier blanket, one that goes over your carrier to keep your baby warm. Alternatively, there are maternity coats that have an extra panel that you can attach on the coat to cover the baby as well.
Breastpump - Unless you are not planning to breastfeed at all, you will need a good breast pump. Even when you are exclusively breastfeeding, you will still need to pump out the access breastmilk, or else you may get block duct. You can check out my blog post of breast pumps to give you a better idea of which one you should get.
Nursing bra - If you are planning to breastfeed or pump, then you will need a few nursing bras. You can read my nursing bra review to see what options there are.
Nursing Pads - Whether you go for disposable ones or reuseable ones, you will need something to protect your bras and tops from leaking breastmilk. I was lucky that I didn't have massive leakage, but I know some friends who will have wet patches soaked through to their tops if they forgot to wear their pads.
Nursing Tops & Dresses - If you are exclusively breastfeeding then you will need quite a few of them. They do get dirty quite often so you will need a few to rotate.
Breastfeeding pillow - If you are exclusively breastfeeding, then I will say this is a must. If you are mostly pumping then this would be a nice to have item. Holding your baby while breastfeeding can be very tiring, especially when you are doing it every two hours, for half an hour to an hour each time. I know some mums use pillows and towels to help prop up the baby, which works, but it is a bit of a hassle, and when you are sleep deprived, you want the easiest option. I would recommend My Brest Friend's Travel inflatable pillow, because I actually found it more comfortable than their normal one, as you can adjust how high it sits on your body depending on how inflated it is.
Small hot water bottle or Hot and Cold Breast Therapy pads - For those who have breastfed before, you will know why you need these. Breastfeeding can be painful, and often you need them to soothe your painful breasts.
Milk Storage Bags or Containers - I used reusable Milk Storage containers and Milk trays instead of storage bags because I want to be more environmentally friendly. It worked for me because I wasn't producing a freezer full of breastmilk like some mums. Milk storage bags are more convenient, however, as far as I know, none of them are biodegradable.
Nipple Cream - Another item you need to soothe your painful nipples. When your nipples are being sucked on every two hours for an hour, it is going to be sore. So a good nipple cream is good to protect your nipples so they don't crack.
Baby log book or App - I log every meal, every nap, and every bowel movement, so I can track if Joshua ever feels unwell. Whenever I go and see the pediatrician my baby logbook is like my bible. Because I can tell him exactly when Joshua lost his appetite or have usual bowel movements. This is also a good habit to have once your baby starts solids, so you can keep track of all the food he/she has tried and if they have any allergies.
Diapers - Whether you decided to get disposable diapers or cloth diapers, just make sure you have enough diapers. They do go through them very quickly.
Diaper rash cream - Being in a diaper all day, sometimes your little one will have diaper rashes. Some baby's skin is more sensitive than others, so it is definitely worth having a tube around.
Baby moisturizer - Keep your baby's skin nice and soft, we apply cream on Joshua every day after his bath, sometimes even during the day if the weather is dry. A definite must if you are having a Winter Baby.
Baby body wash - It is best to use Baby body wash & shampoo to ensure there are no nasty chemicals. A lot of adult products have chemicals in there that a baby's skin might be too sensitive to, so better to be safe than sorry.
Baby wet wipes or cotton wool pads - Whether you want to use freshwater with cotton wool pads or wet wipes, we all need something to clean our baby's bum. There is a more eco-friendly way, where you can use reusable small clothes, but you will need a lot of them.
Newborn sleepsuits with inbuild mittens and booties - Unless the doctor tells you, you are going to have a huge baby (above 9 pounds), you will need some Newborn clothing. I was told not to bother getting Newborn clothes, and boy did I regret it. I ended up having to frantically find some after Joshua was born. So for the first week or so, he was in massively oversized sleepsuits, where his arms and legs kept being lost in. Do they grow out of them quickly, yes they do, but do you still need some, YES! Because your baby still needs something to wear for the first month of his/her life. Sleepsuits that says fits 0 - 3 months, DOES NOT fit a newborn baby. I will say buy around 6 - 8 newborn sleepsuits, so you have time to wash them. Get ones that open up completely with popper buttons, as they are easier to put on at this age, and get ones with inbuilt mittens and booties so they will stay on. If you are buying onesies, I recommend buying the kimono style at the newborn stage.
Nail filer, clipper or scissors - Babies have unbelievably sharp nails and they grow super fast. Some people prefer scissors or clippers, but I much prefer nail filer, as I am so scared of cutting my baby's fingers by mistake. You can get an electronic filer, which is super easy to use and very safe.
Electronic Thermometer - An item that isn't very sexy but super useful. My sister-in-law gave us one as a baby shower gift, and I have to say, it is a lifesaver! We used it every time we are unsure if Joshua is unwell or not. At least it will give you peace of mind.
Lots of small square muslin cloths or towels - I used these for bathing, wiping Joshua's mouth and hands, drool and spit-ups. I think 10 is a good amount to start off with, although I probably have around 20. I was worried about running out, but the truth is, I always had plenty to spare.
Bibs - Baby drools so I do use a lot of bibs, especially at the beginning when Joshua was still learning how to drink, I had to change his bib pretty much after every feed.
Baby Laundry Detergent - If you worry about your baby having sensitive skin, then best to get some baby laundry detergent.
First Aid Kit - We didn't get this until Joshua was born, because if anything is wrong, the first thing we do is call up the pediatrician, and we wait for him to proscribe the medicine for him. However, I know a lot of parents who live in UK or US will have some Calpol at home just in case.
Nasal aspirator - There are many different types out there, from electronic ones, to the ones that you need to suck. You might need to try a few before you find the one that works for you. Joshua hates having his nose clean, so we actually have to use a nasal spray to clean his nose.
If you are having a Winter Baby
Warm sleeping bag - If your baby is born in the middle of winter, then get a nice and thick padded sleeping bag to ensure your baby is warm enough at night.
Vests - Sometimes even the fleece sleepsuit is not warm enough, so best to have some vests as undergarments.
Hats - Something to keep your Newborn head's warm. They are so cute anyway so any excuse to put them on.
A small tin of formula - Ok ok I know some hardcore breastfeed mamas are going to say no to this, but the small can of formula is just for backup. In case you don't have enough breastmilk, or your breastmilk has not kicked in yet. If your baby is premature or you are having a cesarian birth, that can happen. Your body might not register that the baby is out yet, so your breastmilk has not arrived yet.
Pacifier - Whether you are against them or for them, it is good to have one or two in the house just in case you need it. When you are sleep deprived and your baby won't stop crying in the middle of the night, this can be a godsend. If you can, get a glow in the dark one, so you can easily find it in the middle of the night.
Cute Outfits - I put this as nice-to-have, as Joshua pretty much just lived in his sleepsuits for the first couple of months. Granted I was in confinement, so I didn't leave the house for the first month, and the only time Joshua left the house was to see the pediatrician, so I didn't really need any nice outfits. However I know all new parents want cute photos of their babies, so you can get some really cute outfits for photos.
Mittens & Booties - Don't get me wrong, they are super cute, and I had lots of them, but I much preferred sleepsuits, onesies, and pants with inbuilt mittens or footies. Why? Because they stay on! Babies are Houdinis when it comes to taking off mittens and booties, I found myself constantly finding one mitten on the floor or trying to put a bootie back on because it fell off when he moved. In the end, I just used sleepsuits and onesies with inbuilt mittens only.
White Noise Machine - This item is very handy to have. Not all baby needs white noise to fall asleep but it certainly is a lifesaver when you have a baby crying non-stop in the middle of the night. Our baby monitor has an inbuilt white noise function, so we didn't have to get a separate one, alternatively, you can always use your phone and find white noise sound on Spotify.
Music Mobile - When they are newborns, they don't know how to appreciate music mobiles, so wait until someone gives it to you as a gift, or a hand me down.
Crib Bumper - I know some parents are against this, that is why this is in my "nice to have" list. Personally I have one, it is very handy now that Joshua is older, as he moves around the crib a lot, so it gives him some form of protection so he doesn't hurt himself. However, I understand some parents are worried about the baby suffocating if they sleep against it. There are some bumpers that are more breathable, just to put your mind at ease.
Diaper Bin - A diaper bins are good if you live in a big house and you do not plan to empty out your bin each day. However in Hong Kong, as the flats are small, we empty our bins out every day, so it isn't really necessary.
A Clock in the Nursery - If you are logging your baby's activity, it is helpful to have a clock in the room, so you know what time they have eaten, fallen asleep, or have to change their diaper. This will come in very handy when you start sleep training.
Baby Blankets - I love the idea of baby blankets, but honestly you don't really use them until they are older. Joshua is nearly 1 year old, and he still doesn't use baby blankets. Blankets are great for when they are older, and you don't worry about the blanket suffocating them when they sleep. We did use them for a while when he was sleeping in our room, as we were worried he might get cold because my husband likes the room really cold. (Like a fridge!) Joshua was swaddled like a burrito, and the blanket was tucked in tightly under the mattress to ensure it won't move. Now that he is older we just put him in a sleeping bag as he moves around too much.
Baby shoes - Great for photos but they are pretty much useless. I know baby shoes are adorable and I myself bought a pair for photos, but apart from that, I think Joshua wore them once and that was about it.
Pacifier Holder - If your baby does use a pacifier, I would recommend getting one. It is not a must-have, but definitely super useful. So you don't spend ages trying to find the pacifier, or worry that it has dropped on the floor when you are out.
Moses Basket - When you think of a newborn, you immediately think of a cute little baby in a Moses Basket right? As nice as they look, your baby won't be in one for very long. We liked the idea of a Moses basket because we thought it will be nice to have our baby in it while we are in the living room. Truth is, when he was out in the living room with us, we were either cuddling him or he was very happy lying down on the baby gym. When he is in deep sleep, I much prefer putting him back in his own cot, as he sleeps better and for longer.
Sleepyhead/Dockatot - My son did like the Sleepyhead, but he also grew out of it very quickly! I was lucky that one of my friends passed it to me after her son outgrew it. It was handy to have this when I have Joshua sleeping in it while we are in the living room.
Cocoonababy - Ok, this item didn't work for Joshua, but I also know some mothers swear by it. So to me, this one is a bit of a gamble. Again, I was lucky that my friend passed this item to me so I didn't have to buy it, but if I did, it would have been a big waste of money for me. Good thing though, they do resell really easily.
Newborn insert for the highchair - Depending on how your family work, I know some family wants the baby to eat with them at the table as soon as possible. In that case, then yes, the newborn set is a must-have. However, if you are not, like me, then this is a nice to have item.
Lightweight stroller - I do have two strollers, but I also know this is a luxury and it isn't a must-have. We have one that is heavier but can clip the car seat on, and a lightweight one that I use when I am out on my own. If you drive everywhere, you can wait and get a lightweight stroller later on.
Rain Cover for Stroller - Unless the country you are staying in is always raining, this item is a nice-to-have.
Baby Towels - Baby hooded towels are super cute, but a normal towel works just as well. The good thing about baby towels is they are shaped in a square so it is easier to wrap your baby in after the bath. Also, they are smaller, so it is easier to handle than a big towel.
Wet bags or pouches - This is a more eco-friendly option than carrying a spare plastic bag for your baby's dirty clothes.
Cradle Cap Brush - Not all babies have cradle cap, so you can wait and see if you need this item before buying it.
Night light - Most babies actually like the dark, as it is pitch black in the womb. The night light is more for the parents when we have to attend to them in the night.
Sun Shade for Car Window - If you own a car.
Red Baby Rattle - This is great for your baby to exercise their eyes. Newborns sometimes cannot focus with their eyes, so they look cross-eyed. My husband was so worried, we went to see a specialist for this. It ended up to be perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. The doctor gave me a tip and said we can do eye exercise with Joshua with a baby rattle or something red. So we bought a red baby rattle, and it worked great.
Silverette Nursing cups - Not everyone needs this, but for those who have really sensitive nipples like myself, this is super useful. Mine was so sensitive that sometimes I just walk around the flat topless because anything brushing against my nipples was agony. These were very useful because it protected my nipples from brushing against fabric, making it more bearable. I just wish I discovered sooner.
I know this list might seem daunting, but you will be using them every day. If you have friends who can pass down items that their baby has outgrown, great! If not, it is ok, you can always reuse them for baby no.2.
I am sure some of your other mummy friends will recommend other items that they found was a lifesaver. The best way is trial and error, unfortunately, but the necessary list is pretty much universal.
If you like this list, please let me know, as I have created a checklist for you. Simply sign up to my mailing list, and drop me a note saying you would like my Newborn shopping checklist and I will email it over to you. That is it.
Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, enjoy it, even though it is hard at times. You will be so happy when you meet your baby.
Sending you love & positive thoughts,