If you’re about to have a baby or just had one, marketers will tell you that you need a literal house full of gadgets and handy items. In reality, there are only a few essentials that you need for both yourself and your child beyond diapers and formula. Here are 21 essential accessories for your newborn baby.
21 Things to Buy For a Newborn
1. A Portable Playpen aka Pack n Play
A portable playpen is one that will safely contain a child that is rolling, crawling and climbing. This is in contrast to baby gates and large plastic pens that you really can’t take with you. A portable play pen allows you to put the child down to play or nap, whether you’re keeping them close while working in another room of the house or sleeping in a hotel room. The best portable playpens can be folded up and stored in a corner of the closet or the back of your car. Then your child can take a nap at Grandma’s house in a child-safe playpen.
2. A Changing Table
Why do we recommend having a dedicated changing table instead of using a pad on top of the material in the baby’s crib? Hygiene is just one reason. Change the child’s dirty clothes and dirty diapers on a surface you can easily sanitize without doing a massive load of laundry. Reduce the risk of poop getting on stuffed animals and your child’s favorite blanket.
Another benefit of having a changing table is that you can collect all of the changing supplies like wipes and skin rash cream in one place. And when that place is not near the child’s crib, your child is less likely to start tasting the diaper rash cream out of curiosity when they wake up alone at 5 AM. A waterproof changing table pad is optional but recommended. Our parents’ guide will include other items that are useful but not essential.
3. A Car Seat
You must have an approved car seat to take your child home from the hospital. This is so important that police and hospital staff may install it or verify that the installation is properly done for free. It is your choice as to whether you have a separate car seat or a “system” that lets you connect the baby carrier into a car seat structure mounted in the car. A newborn should be placed in a car seat that has them lying down. The child shouldn’t be sitting up in the car seat until they can successfully hold their head up for long periods of time; that is well after the six-month mark.
4. Rocking Chair / Glider
It is easy to say you’ll carry and rock the child to sleep when they’re a newborn. It gets harder as they get bigger. And the job is that much more difficult in the middle of the night. The solution is to get a rocking chair or glider. You can rock the child to sleep or simply bring both of you back to calm. As a side benefit, you can sit in it and read to your child.
5. A Diaper Genie / Diaper Pail
A diaper genie or diaper pail will hold those dirty diapers until you put them out in the trash. They differ from trash cans in that they seal the diapers in a plastic wrapper, minimizing the smell in your child’s room. This makes it that much easier to dispose of stinking diapers and wipes, much less empty the diaper pail in as hygienic a method as possible.
6. A Clothes Hamper
It is true that you can use a laundry basket instead of an upright clothes hamper. Unfortunately, a basket full of clothes sitting on the floor will be of interest to your child. And that includes the soiled clothes in it. Upright clothes hamper with a lid will keep your child from playing with the dirty clothes you just took off of them. We’d recommend a separate one from what you use for storing your dirty clothes so that you don’t get any more of your child’s pee and poo on your own clothes than necessary.
7. Fitted Crib Sheets
Sheets prevent you from having to wash the mattress every time your child’s diaper leaked. Fitted sheets will stay securely in place. We recommend two such sheets so that you have one to have on the mattress while the other is being washed, and they need to be washed periodically. You can reduce the odds of this being necessary by putting a light blanket on top of the crib sheet, but you don’t want your baby sleeping on multiple layers.
8. A Mattress Protector
A plastic mattress protector will prevent spilled milk and vomit from reaching the mattress, especially since mattresses are hard to clean and you don’t want toxic chemicals next to where your child sleeps. Always cover the mattress in two sheets so that your child isn’t lying right on top of the plastic.
9. Baby Gates at the Stairs
Do you have stairs? You need baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairwells. This prevents the child from falling down them.
10. Outlet Covers
Cover your power outlets so that your child doesn’t get shocked pushing what they think are buttons. Have these in place before your child starts crawling.
11. A Portable Fan for Your Baby’s Room
Our parent’s guide wouldn’t be complete without discussing the items that you can use almost anywhere you go. A portable fan is useful both in your child’s room and when you’re on the go. Use the portable fan to keep your child cool in their crib or simply maximize airflow to reduce the risk of crib death. Blow it on their bottom to control diaper rash without using lots of creams and chemicals.
You can use that same portable fan to keep your child cool and properly ventilated when they’re sitting in the stroller or in their car seat. ParentsTab.com has published a long review guide for it. We recommend you check that before the purchase.
It doesn’t matter if you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, you need at least eight bottles. The bottles will allow you to feed the baby milk or stored breast milk. Then Mom can take a nap while Dad feeds the baby.
13. Bottle Cleaning Brushes
If you have bottles, you need bottle cleaning brushes to get them properly clean. Pick ones with flexible heads and a long brush, and you could use it to clean your water bottles, too. You can use the same dish soap you use to wash other dishes to clean your baby’s bottles. Just make sure you rinse them out with water thoroughly.
14. Insulated Carriers / Coolers
Unless you’re going to rely on single-serve cans of formula you can pour into a bottle in an instant and serve, you’ll need an insulated carrier to keep the breast milk or pre-made formula safe and ready for use. These carriers could be stylish enough to keep your sandwich or healthy snacks cool, too.
On the other hand, you can skip the bottle warmer. It takes as long to heat a bottle as a baby bottle in hot water. Note that you should never heat a bottle in the microwave because that creates boiling areas that can burn your child’s mouth.
15. Cotton Bibs
Babies spit up and vomit. They drink milk and stop, and some of it dribbles out of their mouth. Babies will pick up things that fall out of their mouths, even when they’re learning how to eat. If you don’t want to be doing five loads of laundry a day, save yourself the hassle and invest in at least half a dozen cotton bibs. Then you only have to wash the bibs, not their whole outfit.
16. A High Chair
This can wait until the child is old enough to sit up and eat solid food, and that’s normally at age six months. A good high chair will hold the child upright and prevent them from climbing out of it. It must be ultra-stable. Mess mats are optional.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going to use cloth or disposable diapers – you need several packs of them before you bring the baby home. Diaper stackers are convenient but not necessary.
18. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are indispensable. They’re used to wipe your baby’s bottom when changing their diaper and clean the snot from their nose. Note that you don’t have to pay a premium for baby wipes containing aloe or essential oils. Baby wipe warmers are unnecessary.
19. Diaper Rash Cream
You could use zinc oxide ointment or petroleum jelly, but your baby will need something on their skin applied after you’ve cleaned their bottom to protect the skin from diaper rash.
20. An Infant Tub
An infant tub is essential to safely giving your child a bath, once the umbilical cord has fallen off. A bath seat is only an option once the child is more than six months old and can sit up on their own for an extended period of time.
21. Baby Safe Bath Supplies
You should not use your bar soap and shampoo on a baby. Use baby bath wash and baby shampoo. You’ll also want to get baby combs and brushes, but these are less of an issue. You can use the same cotton balls and cotton swabs as you may already have stocked in your makeup kit. Do get baby-safe scissors and nail clippers.
There are many things you’ll want to get for your baby, but you should prioritize the essentials. The rest is optional, including the rattles and cute animal-themed slippers you’re probably going to get at the baby shower.