As I’m writing this post, I’m really kicking myself for not putting this list together sooner! Below you’ll find a number of recommendations with links (if you click and purchase, Amazon gives me a small percentage – so thank you!!) of products I found absolutely invaluable when I had my babies. I often give my closest friends these items as gifts at their baby shower.
Diapering for Newborns
I recommend purchasing a large package (approaching 100 diapers) of Swaddlers in Newborn size. Your babies likely won’t need this size long, but it’ll be SO helpful to have diapers that actually fit your newborn. If they’re too big, they’re not as effective, and they’re uncomfortable for both you and baby. I would count on about 10-12 diapers per day for the first couple of months, and assume your baby can transition to size 1 diapers after month one. Of course, all babies come in different sizes, so starting with one giant box of newborn size and one giant box of size ones means you’ll be covered for at least the first few weeks. Oh, also, I should say I LOVE Swaddlers for their texture and absorbability, and because they have a rad blue line that lets you know if your baby has peed. This is an incredibly helpful piece of info you’ll need to track in your infant’s first several weeks of life, and that blue line really takes the guesswork out of the whole process. I don’t have a strong preference for wipes, but sticking to ones that are as free from scents and chemicals at first is wise, so as to prevent any issues with sensitive newborn skin.
It’s unlikely you’ll need any type of diaper cream in the first few months of life, but just in case (and for future reference) I have found Butt Paste (in both regular and maximum strength) to be the best when it comes to preventing, relieving, and treating diaper rashes.
Newborn Feeding Needs
Burp Rags – At some point in the first 3 months of life, about half of all newborns will spit up, sometimes a lot! These cloth diapers are the easiest, cheapest, and most affordable option when it comes to burp rags. I would have at least 10-20 on hand at all times, as parents seem to go through at least 1-3 rags each day.
Boppy – I cannot say enough good things about the Boppy, I love it so much I took it with me to the hospital. Again, I know there are a lot of nursing pillows on the market, but I don’t think anything can dissuade my deep love for the original. Also, make sure you pick up at least 1 or 2 extra covers, as babies seem to LOVE pooping, peeing, and spitting up on Boppies, and mamas tend to leak on them a bit as well.
Pacifier – I would make sure you get a clear okay from your pediatrician and lactation consultant (if you are working with one) before you use a pacifier. Once you get the okay, these pacis tend to be widely loved by babies (and parents). Make sure to get a multi pack, because having just one can put you in a precarious position of searching for your one paci with a fussing baby.
Sleeping Products for Newborns
SwaddleMe Blankets – I like to keep things very basic, simple, and efficient when it comes to baby-care. For that reason despite all the other swaddling blankets on the market, I love SwaddleMes the best. They are easy and straightforward to use and are inexpensive. As baby grows older, I pair them with a simple thin muslin blanket for a double swaddle. And if you want to see my favorite swaddle technique – watch here!
Pack n’ Play/Co-Sleepers – You will have a lot of choices when it comes to where your baby sleeps. If you have the funds available, it’s always nice to purchase a co-sleeper. These make it very easy to feed your baby throughout the night because they are at arms reach, but, also safe in their own sleeping area. However, co-sleepers can only be used for a brief time, and for that reason I generally recommend parents purchase a Pack n’ Play with the bassinet attachment. In my experience, it’s really the best of both worlds, with the caveat that the side of the Pack n’ Play can impede the easy transfer of a sleeping baby. Pack n’ Plays can also be used for years! My kids played in them all the time up to age 18 months, and slept in them while traveling through the age of three. Along with the Boppy, I find the original to be the best. If you’re not sold on the Pack n’ Play, just remember to keep in mind total weight and ease of set up/take down when shopping for a portacrib. (Remember to remove the mobile attachment as mobiles should not be used with infants below the age of one year).
White noise – If you’ve read my other blog post on white noise, you’ll know I’ve had a love affair with white noise for many years. I even brought my white noise machine to the hospital (it helped me sleep as well, since hospitals are SO SO LOUD and no one tells you that. Again, there are many models on the market, but I’ve never found a sound machine I like even remotely as much as this one. Avoid using a sound machine on your phone (unless you’ve got it connected to a speaker) as the sound quality from a phone or tablet can be wearing on a baby’s ears.
Car seats for Newborns
When shopping for a car seat, I recommend keeping the following information in mind. If you and/or your partner are tall people, it’s much more likely your baby will be “long,” so when you search for an infant car seat, look for one that has a high maximum height limit. If you and/or your partner are of average height, the best thing to do is search for a car seat with the highest allowable maximum weight. Infant car seats are often, in my opinion, safer and more convenient than convertible car seats. The longer your child can stay in an infant car seat, the better! Some kids can stay in their infant car seat until they’re over a year old. It’s also easy to transfer a baby that’s fallen asleep in an infant car seat into a lightweight car seat stroller frame, than having to unlatch them from a convertible seat into a regular stroller. Also, that stroller frame is a lot easier to deal with than a regular stroller (and the frame often takes up less space in your trunk/is easier to haul around in general than a regular stroller), so the longer you can use the carseat/frame combo (even when baby is awake), the better. As a secondary consideration, try to keep in mind how much the car seat itself weighs – the heavier it is, the harder it’ll be to carry around.
Dressing your Newborn
Here’s something no one tells you – newborns are next to impossible to dress. They also soil their clothes near constantly. And finally, nothing ever seems to fit them at first! Most newborns weigh around 7 pounds at birth (give or take), and grow FAST. But right at birth, they are so unbelievably tiny (see diapers above). The only clothing I’ve found that fits them well and doesn’t break the bank are Gerber onesies (short and long sleeved) and Gerber kimono shirts. Remember to always select “newborn” size, not 0-3 months, as the newborn size will actually fit your baby at the hospital. Plan on only being able to use the newborn size for a few weeks, but also remember you may need to change baby a few times each day. The kimono shirts are great because they just button up the front and don’t need to go over the head, and are also great because they don’t aggravate the umbilical stump. Finally, the long-sleeved onesies also have hand covers at the end, which will keep babies who scratch from being able to harm themselves.
If you plan on nursing, please remember to place high quality lanolin in your hospital bag. I literally put this on as soon as I was physically able to after birth, and reapplied it religiously. Once your nipples crack (and that can happen very, very quickly), it can be a lengthy, uncomfortable, and even painful recovery. Regular use of the miracle that is lanolin can really help keep your nipples intact during early breastfeeding days. Along with that, nursing pads will be invaluable once your milk comes in. You may find that nursing pads fit your needs, or that gel pads are more comfortable.
These items are still great for the newborn period, but they’re for Mom, not baby 😉
Along with taking Lansinoh to the hospital, I would recommend throwing Colace in your bag, and (with doctor’s approval) taking it daily in the week preceding your due date. You would think that your vagina would experience the most trauma from childbirth, but the truth is that straining to pass a bowel movement is really one of the scariest things to do after birth! Colace will ensure that bowel movements are soft and won’t require much straining.
If you managed to get through your pregnancy without a belly band, I still think you’ll find this useful in the “in between” stage where your stomach is reducing in size, but you’re not able to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. While you may still be wearing maternity clothes for many months after your baby is born, you may find that they still become ill-fitting over time. These belly bands help you transition back into non-maternity sizes nicely.
This one might seem crazy, but along with straining for bowel movements, you may find that wiping, and just generally caring for your genitals, will be a bit of a task in the weeks after birth. Thankfully, the Fridet will become your best friend. Instead of wiping, this lovely little gadget can help you clean yourself without having to actually touch yourself.
Well there you have it! I hope you’ve found this advice helpful! If you have any other must-have items for newborns, feel free to post a link in the comments. Good luck with your new baby, and don’t forget to check out my new book, which has an excellent chapter on newborn sleep.
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