Preparing for Baby
Your baby is on the way but wondering what you need to be prepared?
Read through our comprehensive list and recommendations
to start preparing for your little bundle of joy's arrival!
Recommendations & Tips
Preparing for Baby
What baby items your need and how to select the best item
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Crib: There are so many adorable cribs out there. The crib will be the focal point of your nursery and where your baby will be spending a lot of time. With that in mind, you'll want to consider the style as well as the functionality.
Many cribs today convert from a crib to a toddler bed to a full-sized bed headboard. Also, some cribs allow you to adjust the height of the mattress (as an infant, the mattress is higher for ease and then can be lowered as your child grows). Click here to see some of my favorite cribs.
If you are considering using a used crib, make sure it complies with current safety regulations. Here's a helpful link that covers crib safety.
Changing Table/Dresser: You can either purchase a changing table or a dresser that allows you to add a changing table on top. Personally, I recommend using a dresser with a changing table on top. You can continue to use a dresser as your child grows, unlike a changing table that has only one purpose.
When selecting a changing table or dresser with a changer on top, you'll want to make sure that the height of the table/dresser is comfortable for changing diapers, it provides enough storage, and it provides enough space to easily arrange and access your diapers, wipes, and other diapering items. Lastly, you'll want to make sure it is safe for your baby and will continue to be comfortable and safe as your baby grows.
You may not even need a changing table. We have an extra long vanity in our bathroom and decided to put a changer on it instead.
Rocker/Glider/Chair: Your rocker or nursery chair will be another accent piece in your nursery but it will also be used a lot for snuggling and feeding your baby. So you'll want to make sure it is comfortable and easy to clean.
Splurging on supportive cushioning and durable upholstery is worth it. Also, consider the arm height and how comfortable it will be when you are holding your baby. In addition, consider the back height. If you want a place to rest your head, you may want to look for a rocker or glider with a taller back.
Click on image to see purchasing options.
Crib Mattress: Nowadays, you have more options than before when it comes to crib mattresses. The two main types of crib mattresses are spring mattresses or memory foam mattresses.
Having tried both, I recommend a memory foam mattress. We initially purchased a spring mattress but for our second son, we invested in a memory foam mattress. The memory foam mattress seems really comfortable and my son can't jump on it like the spring mattress!
Mattress Covers: Midnight or naptime accidents will likely happen. To protect your mattress and make clean up easier, you'll want to invest in a couple of mattress covers.
I highly recommend the American Baby Mattress Covers. They are super soft and aren't noisy like some waterproof protectors. I recommend having two so if there is an accident or one is in the wash.
Crib Sheets: Of course, you'll need crib sheets as well. Again, having two or more pairs is really nice in case you have an accident or one is in the wash, you'll have another one on hand.
When picking out sheets, consider how comfortable they will be for your little one. I have a couple of pairs that are really cute but they are so rough! I found that flannel sheets are great because they are so soft and cozy. If you are crafty, you can even make your own!
Pack-n-Play: Pack-n-plays are not only great for traveling, but they are also great to use around the house as an additional sleeping or play spot.
You can buy just a standard pack-n-play or one with a bassinet, napper, changing station, and/or other accessories. The bassinet is great for the first few months when your little one is still small. Then, the napper option allows you to raise the mattress higher until your baby starts to roll over. When they start moving more, you can remove the napper and put the mattress down in the pack-n-play.
Both of our sons slept in a pack-n-play in our room for the first few months.
The boys slept in the bassinet for the first month or so and then they transitioned to the napper. I personally never used the changing station but I've seen friends set up their pack-n-play with the changing station in their living room or another room in their house to make changing diapers handier.
Pack-n-Play Mattress: A pack-n-play mattress is not necessary but it is nice to have if your little one is going to be sleeping in the pack-n-play a lot. The mattress that comes with most pack-n-plays is pretty thin but still meets all the safety requirements.
I invested in a memory foam pack-n-play mattress. I honestly don't know if my son is any more comfortable but it seems like it!
Pack-n-Play Sheets and Mattress Protector: Depending on how much you are planning to use your pack-n-play, you'll want one or more pairs of sheets. I would recommend a pack-n-play mattress protector as well in case any accidents happen.
Swaddle Blankets: For most babies, swaddle blankets are a must for the first month or longer. Most babies love to be snuggled up and sleep better swaddled. For a great tutorial on swaddling click here.
I highly recommend investing in some really nice muslin swaddle blankets. As a first time mom, I thought any blanket would work. Wrong! Unless you are one of those swaddling ninja nurses at the hospital, a basic receiving blanket isn't going to make the cut.
Sleep Sacks: Sleep sacks are great for transitioning out of the swaddle or to use instead of a swaddle blanket. A sleep sack provides the coziness babies like as well as warmth. The Halo Sleep Sacks are my favorite sleep sacks. They fit like a large gown and then have velcro wings that you can wrap around your baby's arms and chest to make them feel like they are in a swaddle.
We transitioned to a sleep sack around six weeks old when our boys started breaking out of the swaddle blankets more often. I continued to use the sleep sacks until the boys were around 5 or 6 months old. At first, I swaddled their arms in. Then, left one arm in and one out for a while followed by both arms out. After that, I continued to use them to keep the boys warm.
*Please note that loose blankets are not recommended until your baby is one year of age dues to the risk of suffocation.
White Noise Machine: This is an optional item. White noise machines are helpful to drown out other noise while your baby is sleeping. You can also use a fan or an app on your smartphone if you don't want to invest in a white noise machine.
Baby Monitor: There are a lot of different options when it comes to baby monitors, You can get a basic sound monitor, a video monitor, or a movement monitor. The choice is yours. With our first son, I just used a basic sound monitor. I just wanted something that would alert us if he was up so I could go and check on him. For our second son, we invested in a video monitor. I still mainly rely on the sound more than the video but it is still nice to see him and make sure he is safe without going into the room and potential fully waking him up. We also have a second camera so I can also keep an eye on my other son on the same monitor.
As a first-time mom, I dreaded bathtime. I was so nervous if the water was too hot or too cold, if my little one was going to pee or poop in the tub, if he was going to squirm out of my arms as I was taking him out of the tub and so forth. Luckily, you become a bathtime pro over time and now I love giving my sons baths!
Baby Tub: A baby tub is a must purchase in my opinion although you can just hold them and bathe them in the sink or tub. The First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub is a great option because it grows with your baby. It offers a sling for newborns, a reclined side for infants, and a straight back for toddlers. This product as definitely got its use in our house.
Bathmat: Once your little one is old enough to transition to the bathtub, I would recommend investing in a nice bathmat if your tub is slick.
Rinser: A rinser is optional. I just used a plastic measuring cup we already had on hand.
Hooded Towels: Before I even had my own baby, I loved looking at the hooded towels and buying them as gifts. There is nothing cuter than a baby wrapped up in a hooded towel and they are great for keeping your little one warm after a nice and relaxing bath. I would recommend at least 2-3 towels.
Wash Cloths: You'll want some soft washcloths. I would suggest a set of 6 but it all depends on how often you bathe your baby and how often you do laundry.
Shampoo and Body Wash: I would recommend looking for tear-free shampoo and soap. I've used several different brands of baby soap and shampoo. Right now, I am using Koala Tears Free Body Wash and Conditioner from Melaleuca. I love that they are made with natural ingredients and very gentle.
Changing Pad & Covers: Well, it goes without mentioning, that you will be changing plenty of diapers so you'll need a good place to change your little one. Accidents do happen so I purchased 3 different changing covers. However, to avoid having to constantly change the changing pad, I put a towel on top of the changing pad and cover, that I can quickly remove or fold over when those messes happen.
Wipe Warmer: You will constantly see baby wipe warmers on the list of things that are non-essential or useless. True, it might not be essential but I really love having a wipe warmer. Do you really want to put a cold wipe on your baby's bottom in the middle of the night? I don't think so!
Diaper Pail and Bags: Those diapers can stink! A handless pail is a great option.
Diapers: I decided to go with disposable diapers. When we had our first son, we had a diaper shower and received a lot of different brands which was great because I was able to test a lot of different diapers. In the end, Pampers Swaddlers worked the best for newborn through size 2. Once my son was in size 3, we started having never-ending blowouts. I knew that either he wasn't in the right size or we needed to try a different brand. I started using Huggies Little Movers and he hardly had any accidents.
Quick note though, each brand offers different types or styles of diapers. The diapers I recommend are Pampers Swaddlers, Huggies Little Movers, and the Target brand Up&Up. Amazon's Subscribe and Save can save you 20% on diapers and Costco carries the Huggies Little Movers at a reasonable price.
Wipes: My favorite wipes are Huggies Natural Care. This is a great item to buy through Amazon's Subscribe and Save.
Buying baby clothes is such a fun part of having a baby. There are so many cute baby outfits! However, I encourage you to resist the urge to buy too many baby clothes. Babies grow out of baby clothes really quickly! My boys didn't have a chance to wear all the newborn clothes they had especially the newborn and 0-3 month sizes. Depending on the size of your baby, you may not even need newborn clothes at all. My boys were always a size ahead (example: at 3 months they were wearing 6-month size clothing and so forth).
You'll want to buy clothing that is soft and comfortable for your baby as your baby will be sleeping most of the time during the first couple of months. Also, consider buying clothes that are easy to put on and take off. You'll be changing a lot of diapers - day and night. The most frustrating thing is when you are half asleep and can't figure out how to snap up your baby's jammies back up after a diaper change! That's why I opted for zippers on most of our onesies. However, you do have to be careful not to pinch your baby's skin when zipping them up.
As far as how many clothes you actually need depends on a couple of different factors. First, it depends on how often you plan to do laundry. It also depends on how often you baby gets their clothes messy. If you have a baby that spits ups or has leaky diapers, you are going to be changing their clothing a lot more often.
Below are my general recommendations for what clothes to start with:
Bodysuits/Onesies: 6-8 soft and comfortable sets.
Sleepers or Gowns: 4-7 footed sleepers or gowns. My preference was a mix of both zippered sleepers and gowns.
Socks: I recommend 4-6 pairs of the Gerber terry bootie socks. The fit snuggly and don't slip off like some other socks I have tried.
Mittens: 3-4 pairs to help keep your little one's hands warm and help keep your little one from scratching themselves. Those little fingernails can be pretty sharp!
Hats: 2-3 soft cotton hats, possibly more if it is cooler.
Slippers or shoes: Optional but for winter months having a pair of slippers to keep your little one's feet warm is great.
Bunting Sack: Optional as well. I had a bunting sack but never used it. It is not recommended to have your child in a winter coat, snowsuit, bunting sack etc, when in their car seat. Instead of a bunting sack, I purchased a bunting car seat cover which kept my little one warm and out of the elements during the winter.
Sun Hat: If you plan to out in the sun, you'll definitely want a sun hat to keep your little one's head protected from the sun.
Pacifiers and Pacifier Holders: Some babies take a pacifier and others do not. You may want to experiment with a couple of different types to see what works the best for your baby. If your baby does take a pacifier, you will want some holders to avoid the pacifier continually falling to the floor but remember that babies should not sleep with a holder.
Bandanas: Babies can be really drooly. Bandanas are cute and help keep your baby dry which helps reduce possible skin irritation.
Nasal Aspirator: The hospital may provide you with a nasal aspirator that you can take home. If you purchase your own, you may want to look at purchasing one that can easily be cleaned.
Thermometer: I really like having a thermometer that takes the temperature by reading their forehead or ear.
Tylenol: Unfortunately, your baby is likely going to get sick or be uncomfortable from shots or teething eventually. When that happens, you'll want to have some baby Tylenol on hand. Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle and your doctor's recommendation.
Vitamin D Drops: Vitamin D drops are recommended for the first year. I highly recommend Vitamin D drop that can easily be applied to a nipple or with food.
Humidifier: Personally, we haven't needed a humidifier, but many parents say this is a must.
Nursing Cover: When purchasing a cover, you'll want to consider what makes you comfortable and what is comfortable for your baby. I initially had a thicker cover that provided more coverage but when the summer months hit, it ended up being too hot for my little one. So I bought a second one that was thinner muslin which was more breathable and cool.
Nursing Pillow and Cover: Nursing pillows are great when you are feeding your baby or just rocking them. You can also use it later on when your little one is sitting up but you want something behind them in case they topple over. You may want to purchase several covers especially if your baby spits up a lot.
Burp Cloths: If and how many burp cloths you will need will depend on your little one. We used a lot of burp cloths with my first son. We had at least 10 on hand. My second son didn't spit up at all and I didn't even pull them out.
Bottles: I would suggest starting with a small newborn starter kit from one or two brands. Nipples do come in different sizes, styles, and flow speeds. Once you find the one that works for your baby, you can invest in more as needed. All babies are different. Some babies aren't picky at all while others will only feed from a particular bottle or nipple.
Bottle Cleaning Accessories: Some extra accessories you may want to invest in is a dishwasher basket, bottle and nipple brush, bottle drying rack.
Bottle Warmer: I didn't use one since I mainly breastfed, but if you are going to be feeding with a bottle a lot, you may want one. Instead, you can warm up the milk by holding it under hot running water or placing it in a bowl of warm water.
Bottle Sanitizer: Another item that I did not purchase. To initially sanitize your bottles and nipples, you can place them in boiling water for 5 minutes (refer to the instructions included with your bottles and nipples). Otherwise, normal cleaning will do the job.
Breast Pump: Before purchasing a breast pump, check with your insurance provider. You should be able to get a free pump through them.
On the Go
Car Seat: You have two options when it comes to car seat types: a carrier/infant car seat or a convertible car seat. I would suggest an infant car seat for the first year. Unlike a convertible car seat, you can easily snap it in and out of the car or stroller which allows you to carry your baby from and to the car in it or easily transfer them to a stroller.
Stroller: I ended up purchasing two different types of strollers. I have a larger one that our car seat carrier can click into which was great for the first 6 months. Now that my youngest son is getting older, I still use the larger stroller for walks but I use a smaller stroller for outings. The larger stroller is more comfortable to push and goes well on rough terrain but the smaller stroller is easier to store in the car and maneuver around stores or to use on trips.
Car Seat Cover: If you are using a carrier/infant car seat and your little one is going to be out in the cold, I highly recommend purchasing a car seat carrier cover to keep them warm and out of the elements.
Mirror: You'll definitely want to install a mirror so you can see and check on your little one while you are driving.
Diaper Bag: There are so many cute diaper bags. They come in all different styles and sizes. I purchased a Ju-Ju Be diaper bag. It was definitely pricier than other brands but it has held up great! I've been using it for three years now and it still looks new!
Trash Bag Holder and Trash Bags: Small trash bags are great to have on hand for messes and dirty diapers.
Disposable Changing Pads: Okay, I really don't like changing my son in public bathrooms but having a large disposable changing pad to cover up most of the area helps. I also like that I can then just throw it away when needed.
Baby Carrier: We purchased an Ergo but a lot of moms also love using wraps for the newborn.
Laundry Detergent: Your little one may have sensitive skin for a little while. Therefore, using a scent-free laundry detergent is best.
Spot Remover: Yes, there are going to be a lot of messes and if you want to save the outfit, you are going to need a good spot remover.
Laundry Bags: Laundry bags are great for washing small items such as mittens and socks.
Dryer Balls: For babies who have sensitive skin, you may need to avoid using dryer sheets. Dryer balls are a great alternative. Plus, dryer balls can speed up your dry time as well.
Other Baby Items
Below are some other items you may want to have before your baby arrives:
Rocker, Bouncer, or Swing: Both our boys spent tons of time in their rocker the first several months. I loved having a safe spot to place them and let them play or nap.
Teething Toys: Before you know it, your baby is going to want something to hold and chew on. Teething typically starts around 4 months old.
Baby Books: It is never too early to start reading to your little one. Reading to your baby provides a great time to bound and can also stimulate developing senses.
Hangers: Don't forget hangers. You'll want to start hanging up all those cute outfits!