Your new bundle of joy is on the way!
This is an exciting time where you are sure to have lots of questions about things like nutrition, sleeping, morning sickness, cravings and baby gear.
Not only are you thinking about the best way to navigate through these next nine months, but you're also thinking about how to be prepared once baby arrives.
When it comes to your baby essentials list, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the options on store shelves, and just about everyone has an opinion or recommendation for you.
What we’ve found is that even with the most well-meaning advice, it’s still a good idea to have a helpful guide to take you through this process of choosing the baby essentials that work best for you and your baby.
From sleeping to eating to playing, we’ve compiled a complete checklist of essential baby items and loads of helpful advice to help you start this journey of motherhood feeling prepared and ready for whatever comes your way.
Except diaper explosions-can we ever really be prepared for those?
*We recommend products we believe moms will love. If you use the following recommended links, we may earn a commission. Learn more
Before buying for baby
The first and probably most important thing to remember is that every baby’s needs are different. You are unique, your little one is unique, so you should expect that your baby checklist will be unique from other baby checklists.
As tempting as it may be to fill your cart with all the cute baby products you see, try to only get things that make sense for your situation.
For example, if you plan to baby-wear for the majority of each day, it may not make sense for you to purchase a baby monitor. If you will be purchasing prepared baby food, then a baby food maker won’t be on your list.
Bottom line, don’t feel pressure to buy all the things people recommend or the shiniest new contraption you see. They may have worked for others but may be unnecessary for you.
Before buying anything, shop around and compare prices. Weigh the pros and cons and decide if it will be a good investment.
Check to be sure larger purchases will last by transitioning with baby as she gets older.
Ultra contemporary designs are fun in the moment, but will they still be in fashion when the next baby arrives? If you plan to pass baby gear from one child to the next, try to select classic designs that will stand the test of time.
When should you start shopping for baby essentials?
Now that you know being picky is totally ok, even encouraged, how should you approach shopping for the items on your checklist?
In the beginning of your pregnancy, you will be very excited! It’s going to be hard to stay out of stores because let’s face it – baby items are so adorable!
So go for it!
It’s totally fine to buy a few things early on. Just try to keep it to a minimum. One or two cute outfits or that fun giraffe blanket won’t hurt anything. We know it’s an exciting time and you should be able to indulge a bit.
Remember to keep items gender-neutral since you won’t know the sex yet, and try not to buy too many things since you won’t know what others will be gifting you at a baby shower or otherwise.
Once a few months have passed and you find out the gender of the baby, this is a good time to grab a few more baby essentials. Things like a box of diapers or a box of wipes are perfect purchases because you can never have too many and they are easily exchanged should you need a different size.
You’ll also likely have created a baby registry where you can see the items that were not purchased to help you stay on track with your purchases.
Wait unit after your baby shower to get most of your baby essentials so you won't risk someone duplicating what you have already bought.
How to save on baby essentials
Babies can be expensive. In fact, according to a 2015 USDA report, on average, parents can expect to spend over $12,000 per year on a child.
It can be easy to overspend on baby products when we think we need all the newest and latest gear. But by being aware of prices and where you get your baby items from, you can reduce your bottom line significantly.
Here are some of the best ways to save on your list of baby must-haves:
Use Second-hand Items
A lot of parents save their baby’s clothes and pass them down to younger siblings.
If you plan to have more children, consider storing clothes older children can no longer fit so you won’t have to buy those items again.
Ask other moms with babies that have recently outgrown clothes and gear to hold on to some of the best pieces for you. Most moms will be happy to have a place to offload things they no longer need to someone they know that will get good use from them.
Shop clearance and shop sales.
Usually things that are going out of season are put on clearance. Try to shop a season ahead to snag some of the best deals on baby essentials.
Buy Gender Neutral
Whenever possible, try to buy gender-neutral items for things that can be passed from one sibling to the next.
These include items like cribs, bouncy seats, onesies, bottles, and blankets.
This way, no matter what sex your next baby is, you’ll already be ahead of the game with baby items you were able to keep.
Keep in mind that babies do not stay in newborn clothes very long.
It’s ok to get a few adorable newborn outfits, but if you buy too many, your little one may never get the chance to wear them before outgrowing that size.
Registering for a baby shower
The question many moms have is, “Should I register for baby gifts?”
The choice is a personal one and ultimately up to each mom to decide. Some moms don’t register past their first child, while some moms register for every child no matter if it’s their first or fifth. Some moms decide to have diaper showers where everyone brings a package of diapers instead of getting gifts from a registry.
There really is no right or wrong way when it comes to making a baby registry.
There is also no hard and fast rule for when to start a baby registry.
If you’d like, you can start one as soon as you find out you’re expecting and gradually add gender-neutral items as you do research and decide on things you like. Or you could wait until after finding out the sex of the baby.
Either way, just be sure you register early enough so that friends and family have time to shop!
What are the best baby registries?
If you decide that you want to register for a baby shower, there are several online registries to choose from. We’ll highlight some of the best baby registries and the reasons they make great places to register for all your baby’s needs.
- 1Amazon Baby Registry
Amazon’s Baby Registry offers the following perks:
- 2Target Baby Registry
Target’s Baby Registry offers the following perks:
- 3babylist Baby Registry
BabyList’s Baby Registry offers the following perks:
- 4walmart Baby Registry
Walmart’s Baby Registry offers the following perks:
What baby items should you stock up on?
If there are things that you know you will need over and over again during the first few months or year of baby’s life, it’s a good idea to stock up on these items so you won’t risk running out when you need them most.
Stock up on these baby essentials so you'll be prepared when the time comes:
Diapers and Wipes
Babies go through 2,000-3,000 diapers in the first year alone, which means you will want to be prepared for each and every diaper change.
When stocking up on diapers, remember that babies grow very quickly in the first few months. It’s best to only get one or two newborn and size one large diaper boxes because they will outgrow those sizes quickly.
On average, babies stay in size three diapers the longest so this is a good size to stock up on. If you choose to stock up past size three, only get one box of each additional size because you won’t know how early they will be potty trained.
Another option is to use a diaper subscription program so your diapers will be delivered to you each month and you won’t have to keep a stockpile.
Whether registering for a couple different size diaper boxes on your baby registry or joining a diaper subscription program to have them delivered to you at set increments, you’ll want to make sure you have a plan in place ahead of time.
Babies will go through onesies like crazy.
Between spitting up, diaper blow-outs and pureed food, you’ll be changing onesies multiple times a day.
Stock up on different sizes through your registry so you won’t have to worry about getting more when your baby outgrows the size they are in.
Even though you may get lots of cute outfits for your baby, you’ll still find yourself hanging out at home a lot with baby in a comfy onesie and a pair of adorable socks.
You’ll want to have plenty of tiny baby socks on hand for lounging around and for going out.
And yes it’s true, the dryer really does eat socks, especially baby socks!
There will be times where you can only find one sock to a pair. To combat that, be sure to have plenty of tiny baby socks on hand so it won’t drive you crazy.
Purchase a mesh laundry bag to keep tiny baby socks and items from getting lost in the washer and dryer.
If you are a bottle-using mama, whether for formula or pumping breast milk, having enough bottles on hand is essential.
Stock up on sizes from small to large to meet the demands of your growing baby.
Bottle nipples also come in different sizes like slow, medium and heavy flow, so be sure to register for what you’ll need now and later as baby grows.
Breast Milk Storage Bags
If you will be breastfeeding you will want to have a surplus of milk storage bags on hand if you plan to pump and save your milk.
It’s no fun realizing you’ve run out of bags right after a pumping session.
Get plenty of bags ahead of time if you know you’ll be using them so you will always be prepared.
Not all babies take to pacifiers, but for those who do, those little gadgets can be a life saver for tired parents, often soothing baby when nothing else will.
Pacifiers are so convenient when they work, but because they are so small they can also get lost easily.
Unlike the other items you need to stock up on, pacifiers can wait until after baby is born. Since you won’t know if your baby will take a pacifier, it’s best to wait to stock up on them until you know if he will and what kind he likes best.
Once you know these two things you can make sure you have a few extras on hand for late nights when you can’t find where baby spit out the first one. You’ll be so glad you did.
Complete new baby essentials checklist
Now that you know all about registering, buying, and saving on baby essentials, it’s time to start a checklist.
We’ve created the ultimate new baby essentials checklist to guide you through the process of picking out everything you’ll need.
Remember, you don’t need to buy everything that is suggested. Pick out the things that will work best for you and baby and leave the rest.
HEALTH & SAFETY
Having a baby is an exciting time. And with a little preparation and forethought, you can get all the baby essentials you'll need to be prepared without spending a fortune.
SUBSCRIBE TO GET YOUR BABY ESSENTIALS CHECKLIST
Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular tips about parenting modern kids and receive your free baby essentials checklist.