What You Need to Care for Your New Baby
Getting ready for a newborn is exciting — and a little daunting. Walk through the “baby” aisles in any store and you’ll see hundreds of products you could bring home. Aside from a safe car seat, which ones do you really need?
WebMD asked experts, including parents, to weigh in on the baby basics every new mom or dad should have, plus which ones deserve a pass.
Diapers and Diaper Bag
Cloth or disposable diapers? Relax, there’s no right answer. “Each family should decide what works best for them,” says Allison Coleman, founder of Austin Baby Guru, which offers early parenting support classes in Austin, TX.
Whatever you choose, stock up! By the time your baby’s a week old, she’ll be having at least four poopy and six wet diapers each day.
You’ll also need a diaper pail with a tight-fitting lid and a diaper bag with room for:
- Diaper cream
- Baby wipes
- Extra change of clothes for baby: “During the summer, include a hat since you can’t put sunscreen on a newborn,” adds James Mandelik, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.
- Changing pad or paper liner
- Bag for a dirty diaper
You’ll need to hold off bathing your newborn until her umbilical cord falls off and the area heals. That can take a week or two. Until then, clean her diaper area well and stick to sponge baths. Have on hand:
- Bathinette or plastic tub
- Hooded towel
- Baby shampoo
- Mild baby soap
- Plastic cup for rinsing
In case baby gets sick or hurt, these first aid basics are good to have ready:
- Digital thermometer (rectal or under the arm): “An ear or forehead thermometer isn’t accurate on babies younger than 12 months,” says Danelle Fisher, MD, chair of pediatrics at Providence Saint John’s Health Center.
- Cool mist humidifier: It adds moisture into the air and helps clear tiny, stuffy noses.
- Nasal saline drops
- Nasal bulb
- Diaper cream
- Antibacterial cream
- Small bandages
- Safety nail scissors
- Infant acetaminophen (Tylenol): Babies under 6 months should not have most other over-the-counter medicines. This includes ibuprofen and cold and cough remedies. If your newborn’s running a fever or acting sick, call her doctor.
Before your baby arrives, decide if you’re going to breastfeed or use formula. “Building your support system is important,” Coleman says. Then, stock up on:
- Bottles (glass or BPA-free plastic) with tight-fitting lids
- Bottle sterilizer
- Bottle/nipple brush
- Burp cloths
- Nursing pillow
If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll also need:
- Breast pump
- Milk storage bags
Formula feeding? Talk to your doctor or other parents about brands to try.
In the Nursery
Sure, it’s fun to decorate your baby’s new room, but when it comes to her crib, “keep it as bare as possible,” Fisher says. Extra items like blankets, pillows, and toys are dangerous — they can stop babies from breathing in their sleep. All you need:
- Crib: Look for fixed side rails with no more than 2 3/8 inches between slats.
- Firm mattress
- Snug-fitting crib sheet
You could also choose a bassinet to go next to your bed. The important thing, Fisher says, is that it’s a safe sleeping space. To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), always place your baby on her back to sleep.
Out and About
Newborns are made to be cuddled, but you’ll need your hands free at some point. Parents suggest:
- Baby carrier, sling, or wrap. “Mine allows me to be hands-free to play with my toddler, make dinner, catch up on email, or grocery shop,” says mom Katelyn Hendricks.
- Baby swing
- Pacifier: If you use one to soothe your newborn, choose a one-piece model. Two-piece pacifiers are a choking hazard.
Clothes and Blankets
No need to buy too many newborn clothes, parents caution. Your wee one will grow out of them faster than you think. What you will need:
- Six to eight onesies, a mix of short and long-sleeved
- Six sleepers
- Three to four swaddling blankets
- One or two lightweight blankets
What’s Not Worth It?
Some products you may want to pass on:
- Wipe warmers. “They cool off so fast that they seem pointless,” Coleman says.
- Diaper disposal device. The smell when you empty it turns off some parents.
- Shoes. Your baby’s not walking anytime soon, so save your money.
- Apps for babies. Experts advise skipping all screen time until babies are at least 2 years old.