As you embark on the exciting journey of parenthood and get closer to bringing your new baby home, you may find yourself asking: “What do I need for a newborn baby?“.
Luckily, babies don’t need a lot in the early weeks! This checklist of baby essentials for the first 3 months will help you navigate those crucial early days with your new infant.
What Do I Really Need For A New Baby?
It can be so easy to splurge on baby clothes, toys, and gadgets when you’re expecting.
But the truth is, caring for your newborn really doesn’t require a lot of ‘stuff’ in those first few months.
In fact, many of the “essentials” on baby registry lists are actually things that you can live without (at least for a little while).
A great tip to avoid the early pregnancy buying spree is to hold off on the majority of your purchases until you are in your 3rd trimester, or after having a baby shower (if you decide to have one) as you will have a much better idea what you need and less likely to end up with too much baby stuff.
So before you go overboard with your baby shopping, take a look at this list of baby essentials for the first three months.
These are the items that you’ll really need to care for your new arrival.
Baby Feeding Essentials For The First Three Months
Even if you are planning to breastfeed your baby, you’ll need to have some baby-feeding essentials on hand.
Best-laid plans do not always go according to plan, and it’s always good to have a backup plan!
If there is one thing that was harder than expected when becoming a new mum, it was definitely breastfeeding! We got there in the end but not without challenges.
If you are breastfeeding, your breastfeeding essentials for a newborn baby will include:
- Nursing pillow – A breastfeeding pillow, such as a Boppy, will help support your baby during feedings and will also save your back from aching by having your baby propped up high enough to prevent you from slumping. This does not need to be an expensive nursing pillow though. A firm pillow you already have at home can be just as effective!
- Burp cloth – You will want several muslin burp cloths on hand for your baby’s feedings, as well as for spit-up and drool. I recommend getting at least 10 burp cloths so you always have a clean one on hand.
- Nursing cover – For discreet breastfeeding in public. A nursing cover also works well to keep your newborn from getting distracted during feedings. The apron style is really easy to put on.
- Breast pump – If you are planning on pumping breast milk, you will need a good quality breast pump. You may be able to get by with a manual breast pump, but most moms find that an electric one is worth the investment. I used a Medela Swing and it was really easy to use.
- Breastmilk storage bags – If you planning on freezing and storing pumped breastmilk, you will need either breastmilk storage bags or extra bottles that are freezer safe.
Tip: A breastfeeding pump not only allows you the flexibility to have others help with feedings (a blessing when you need to catch up on sleep!), but it’s also great for when you experience engorgement and need the relief of letting out some of your breast milk between nursing or when you need to increase your milk supply by encouraging your body to produce milk more frequently.
These are the nursing essentials for new mothers:
- Nursing bras – Nursing bras are specially designed to provide support for your breasts during breastfeeding. They are also designed to allow easy access for nursing your baby. Most will have a clip at the top of the cup. Good-quality, comfortable nursing bras are worth investing in, as you will be wearing them a lot in those early weeks!
- Nursing tops – Make sure you have a few nursing tops to make it easier to nurse your baby when you are away from home. There are many different styles. Investing in a couple of nicer nursing tops will help you feel more comfortable when you are out with your baby.
- Nursing pads – Nursing pads are absorbent pads that you wear inside your nursing bra to absorb any leaks. They can be disposable or reusable. The type you use will depend on what you feel more comfortable with. Both will save you those embarrassing moments of wet patches on your shirt when you are out and about or expecting company.
- Nipple cream – Nipple cream can help soothe and protect your nipples from constant nursing. Choose a cream that is safe to use while breastfeeding and apply it after each feeding, or as needed. This was definitely something I never expected to need but cracked nipples are an agony like nothing else. This lanolin cream worked quickly for me!
Bottle Feeding Essentials
Even if you plan to breastfeed, having some basic bottle feeding supplies are a good idea.
If you are formula feeding, or if you are planning on supplementing or pumping, your baby-feeding essentials list will include:
- Bottles and nipples – You’ll need at least four to six baby bottles. Look for bottles that are BPA-free and easy to clean. It’s a good idea to get a couple of different styles. My eldest daughter refused to take a bottle until we tried the Medela Calma style.
- Newborn formula – If you’re not sure which type of baby formula to choose, ask your baby’s pediatrician for a recommendation.
- Formula dispenser – A formula dispenser is a great way to have the right amount of formula measured out and ready to go. This will save you time in those middle-of-the-night feedings!
- Sterilizing equipment – This is to keep your bottle feeding essentials and pump parts sterilised and safe for your baby.
Newborn Hygiene Essentials
Keeping your baby clean is important for their health and well-being. Thankfully you don’t need a lot of things to do this.
A baby’s skin is also much more sensitive and delicate than ours, so you will want to use products that are gentle and free of harsh chemicals.
A newborn baby does not require daily baths either, with the recommendation being 2-3 times per week initially. This gives their sensitive skin time to develop their natural oils and prevents them from getting dry skin.
Here are the newborn hygiene essentials you will need:
- Bathtub – Using a baby bathtub is the easiest way to bathe your baby, especially in those early weeks. Many baby baths have a nonslip bottom to make those slippery bath moments easier. However, if you are on a tight budget, you can just as easily bathe your newborn in your existing bathtub.
- Hooded baby towels – A soft hooded baby towel is perfect for keeping your newborn warm straight after a bath. Two hooded towels should be enough.
- Soft wash cloth – You will need around 3 to 6 washcloths for bathing your baby and cleaning up any little messes.
- Gentle baby soap – You don’t need anything fancy here, just a gentle baby soap that won’t irritate your baby’s skin. Many of these newborn soaps also double as gentle baby shampoo also.
Diapers / Nappies
A must-have item for babies of any age is diapers or nappies!
Newborns tend to need around 8 to 12 diaper changes a day on average, which equates to around 60-80 nappies per week.
This will decrease as your baby gets older, but it does mean you need to be well prepared for changing your baby when you first bring them home from the hospital.
There are two main options for diapers – disposable and reusable cloth diapers. Disposable diapers are by far the most popular option and will be much easier to manage in those early weeks.
If you do choose disposable nappies, you will need around 200 newborn-size diapers to get you through those first few weeks.
You may want to hold off from bulk buying too many newborn sizes in case your baby is larger than expected, but definitely have at least one full box to begin with.
For cloth nappies, purchase at least 20 reusable diapers so that you have time to wash and dry them between uses.
These will typically consist of an outer layer and a liner. How often you plan on doing laundry may influence if you want to purchase more or less than this.
TIP: Even if you are planning to use cloth diapers with your infant, it is a good idea to have a box of disposable diapers just in case! I had every intention of using cloth, but they were still far too big for our newborn and we ended up finding disposable very convenient. Sometimes we need to be in the moment to know what is best for our lifestyle.
You will also need the following for changing your baby:
- Wipes – Baby wipes are essential for diaper changes, cleaning up spills, and general cleaning when you’re out and about with your baby. Look for hypoallergenic wipes that are free of harmful chemicals.
- Nappy rash cream – This is to soothe and protect your baby’s bottom from nappy rash. This is one item that is better purchased just in case so that you have it when the need arises. The instant relief will make for a much happier baby!
- Changing table – A changing table is a great place to keep all of your baby changing essentials in one place, but it is not an essential piece of furniture. If you don’t have the space for a changing table, you can use any flat surface such as a dresser top with a changing pad or choose to do your nappy changes on a portable changing pad on the bed or floor.
A safe and comfortable sleeping experience is essential for infants! Many parents opt to have their baby sleep in their own bedroom in the first 3 months or longer.
Scientific evidence suggests having a newborn sleep in the same room as their parents will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and sleeping accidents.
With that being said, the safest place for an infant to sleep is in their own bed, rather than share yours.
Here are the newborn sleep essentials you will need:
- Cot – Choose a cot with a firm, flat mattress, with no loose bedding, toys or cot bumpers surrounding it. Babies do not need a pillow.
- Fitted crib sheets – You will need at least 2 sets of crib sheets so that you can change them as needed. Look for sheets that are soft, comfortable and easy to wash.
- Sleeping bags – Sleeping bags or wearable blankets are a great way to keep your baby warm and comfortable at night. They also reduce the need for loose blankets and wraps during the night. Look for one that is the right size for your baby and suited to the temperatures.
TIP: You will need at least 2-3 sleeping bags to suit each stage and season for your baby, so the type of newborn sleeping bags you buy will depend on the time of year they are born. Check the TOG rating to ensure it is suitable for the temperature of the room they will be sleeping in.
As already mentioned, babies are always safest in their own bed.
Whether that be a bassinette or a cot, but it can be really tempting to co-sleep during those early months when you are exhausted and can’t fathom getting back up again to put the baby in their bed.
I remember this feeling very well!
There are some great alternatives to co-sleeping that are safe for your baby!
And while it certainly isn’t an essential baby list item, if you are putting together a first baby registry, you might want to consider adding a co-sleeper bed.
A co-sleeper is a baby bed that attaches to your bed and allows your baby to sleep close by but in their own safe space. This can be a great way to get some rest while still keeping your baby within arm’s reach.
If you do decide to co-sleep, please make sure you do it safely!
Checklist of Baby Clothes 0-3 Months
How many baby clothes does a baby wear during the first three months? Clothing is one area where you don’t need to spend a lot of money on your baby, as they will grow out of everything so quickly!
The main goal is to ensure your baby is comfortable and warm enough.
The type of clothing they need will depend on the time of year, however, the basics remain the same, with the addition of extra layers for warmth during winter.
I would recommend having the following baby clothes for your newborn:
- 5-7 Onesies or bodysuits
- 5-7 Singlets
- 2-3 Sleepsuits or sleeping bags (also mentioned above under baby sleeping essentials)
- 1-2 Cardigans or jackets
- 2-3 Hats/baby beanies, depending on the season
- 3-4 Pairs of socks
- 2-3 Pairs of mittens (these have a tendency to get lost easily)
When planning what baby clothes to buy, consider your due date and the typical temperatures around this time.
Winter baby essentials mean long sleeve onesies and sleepsuits, made from warmer materials.
For summer babies, a combination of short sleeve and long sleeve cotton bodysuits will ensure your baby does not overheat during the hot weather. There may even be times when they are most comfortable in just a singlet and nappy.
A cute going-out outfit is not essential since no one expects your baby to be dressed fancy when you’re out and about!
However, it can be nice to have one or two outfits for special occasions such as a birthday party or dinner or when going to a baby photographer.
Baby Travel Essentials
Getting your baby around safely and comfortably is one of the most important things to consider when you become a parent.
This is necessary right from the moment you leave the hospital on your way home for the first time. Here are some baby must-haves you will need for your newborn baby:
Convertible Car Seat
You will need an infant car seat that faces backwards.
These are usually used until a baby is around 12 months old, or until they reach the maximum height limit for the seat in the backwards-facing position. After this time, a convertible car seat is turned around into a sitting position.
While many baby items can be purchased pre-loved as a wonderful way to save money, this is one item that is recommended to purchase brand new.
You do not know the history of a baby capsule when buying second-hand and want to ensure you are keeping your baby protected when travelling in the car.
This is different if it is not your first baby and you are reusing your own existing infant car seat.
Pram Or Stroller
To easily get around with your new baby, you will need a pram or stroller.
There is a vast array of different prams and strollers on the market, so it is important to do your research before purchasing one. Consider your needs and budget when making your decision.
Some prams or strollers do not suit newborns, while others will convert right from birth through to 2 or 3 years of age.
You will need a pram that can be adjusted into the flat lay position to suit a newborn, as newborn babies do not yet have any ability to hold their head up and the upright position puts strain on their neck.
You may also like to get a stroller insert to help keep your baby’s head in position during the first 3 months of age as a newborn is tiny in a big pram.
A diaper bag is an essential baby item, even if you are only going out for a short time.
A diaper bag should be big enough to fit all the baby essentials when you leave the house, including nappies, wipes, diaper rash cream, spare clothes, wraps and bottles of milk.
You can also like to pack some snacks and drinks for yourself as well as the essentials you need when you leave the house, such as your purse and keys!
A nappy bag tends to replace the need for a handbag during the newborn stage so you want one with plenty of storage pockets that you can easily organise.
Other Must Have Baby Essentials
For other baby necessities for the first 3 months, add these to your baby shopping list:
- Thermometer – Having a new baby or kids in the household makes having a thermometer on hand a very useful item to have.
- Muslin wraps – You can never have too many muslins! They have so many uses such as breastfeeding covers, pram covers, burp cloths, baby wrap or swaddle blanket, change mat when out and about and more. Having at least 5-6 muslin wraps is a great idea!
- Wraps and swaddles – Have a few different baby wraps and swaddles. It is a good idea to get a variety of weights so you have thicker wraps for cooler weather and lighter options for warmer weather.
- Newborn baby toys – A few simple baby toys and bath toys are all you need in the first few months. A coloured mobile over the cot, clip-on pram toys or baby gyms are great for stimulating your baby’s vision and a variety of BPA-free teethers and rattles are good for encouraging early exploring.
Other Baby Products That Are Nice To Have
With so many must-haves for your baby, the list can seem quite overwhelming. There are some other baby items that you may find useful to have, but they are not essential.
- Bassinette – If you have a smaller bedroom, you may prefer to have your newborn baby sleep in a bassinette in your bedroom for the first 3 months. This is smaller than a cot and many have wheels to allow you to move them to different rooms during the day.
- Baby monitor – If you live in a large home or prefer the extra security of keeping an eye on your baby when you aren’t in the same room, you may wish to have a baby monitor to do this. We purchased one and never used it but many parents find them extremely useful if it is in your budget!
- Bouncer or baby rocker – A baby bouncer or rocker is a great way to keep your baby entertained and content. They can also be handy for when you need to have a shower or get something done around the house, such as cooking dinner, while your baby is content nearby. Some of the more advanced models have a motor that gently swings or vibrates your baby to keep them soothed and comforted. This Ergo Baby Evolve Bouncer is fantastic and goes from newborn to toddler.
- Play mat – A play mat is a great activity centre for your baby as they grow and somewhere safe for them to lay and play. In those first couple of months, your baby won’t be able to focus on anything around them but towards the end of the 3 months, they will be more aware of their surroundings. They are a good option for starting tummy time too, which is essential for your baby’s development!
- Diaper pail – If you are planning to use cloth diapers, having a diaper pail near your changing table is a good idea to store the soiled diapers until you are ready to wash them.
- Night Light – A soft, soothing night light in the baby’s room can help them (and you) feel more relaxed and comfortable at bedtime. This gives you just enough light to see by when nursing during the night or changing nappies, without having to turn on the harsh room lighting. Some even have a built-in sound machine and other functions.
- Cot mattress protector – A crib mattress protector is a good idea to keep your baby’s mattress clean and dry in case of leaking nappies or baby spit-up. They are also useful for protecting against dust mites and other allergens.
- Bottle warmer – A bottle warmer is a nice-to-have baby item but definitely not essential. You can warm bottles of expressed milk or baby formula quickly and easily with a bottle warmer. It does save you time but you can certainly get by without one!
- Baby carrier – A baby carrier or sling is a great way to keep your newborn baby close and give them the extra comfort of feeling your body heat. This can help you get things done around the home in those early months when your baby wants to constantly be held. They are also perfect for travelling with a baby and for when you are out and about. Make sure you choose one that is suitable right from birth. Check out the Ergo Baby Omni range.
- Rocking chair – If you do not already have a comfortable place in your home for nursing your baby, you may want to get a rocking chair to do this. There are some really comfortable rocking chairs designed for nursing mothers with arm pockets for storage and a footrest. They can be expensive though, so make sure it’s something you really do plan to use or consider getting a basic second-hand rocking chair instead!
Other Ways To Prepare For Your New Baby
In addition to stocking up on baby supplies, there are a few other things you can do to prepare for your new baby arriving.
Organise your home to suit your new baby.
There’s a good chance you will rearrange things or change how you store certain items once you’ve had time to adjust to life with a newborn, but having everything ready for their arrival help you to feel much calmer.
Fill the freezer.
Making up some freezer meals before your baby arrives will save you time on meal planning. Those first few months are a bit of a blur of broken sleep and learning, so batch cooking is a great way to ease your load. Especially once your partner goes back to work!
Take some time for yourself!
Whether this is your first baby or not, a new member of the family is a time of change. Give yourself some time to recharge your batteries before this happens, enjoying some hobbies or simply relaxing!
A few afternoon naps aren’t a bad way to spend it either!
What about the expectant mother? Check out the must-have pregnancy essentials for women to ensure a comfortable pregnancy experience.
As expecting parents, there are so many baby products on the market that it can be difficult to know what you actually need and what is just nice to have. This baby essentials for the first 3 months checklist will help you get started in knowing what you really need for a new baby and what you can skip, or wait until later to get!
Are there any new baby must-haves that you think are missing from this list?
You might like to read these next: