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Preparing for Baby: A Handy Checklist

Updated on January 24, 2011

The Newborn Baby Checklist: Do you have all you need?

The entire pregnancy experience is a joy for many parents. However, often times along with that joy comes panic and anxiety when questions like these enter one's mind:

Do I have all I need? Will I be a good parent? Am I actually prepared for this baby? Is there anything I am forgetting? I, myself, have three children and you would think that having "been there, done that" would quell my fears just a little. Needless to say, with each new child of mine came the same questions I had already answered or proven to myself.

I remember reading a small checklist of items I would need for my first child. When I say small, I mean exceptionally small. Basically, the checklist I was browsing made sure I had enough to keep my child fed and clothed. As it turned out; following that checklist left me unprepared. Sure, I had the essentials I needed to keep my son fed and warm, but other than that, I had pretty much nothing else lined up. Being a first time Mom ( and even second and then third), there was always something more I needed, or an important item or two I had forgot.

We can't all be perfect though! As our little wonders enter the world, they can often times astound us with our needs. Making sure you are prepared can hopefully bring some of those normal anxieties back down, leaving you to focus on what is really important- that new bundle of joy!

First and foremost, when preparing for a new baby, my first bit of advice is to read through my checklist, and then sit down with a pen and paper and jot down any further ideas that come to your mind. You could even mentally gauge yourself by pretending that you, yourself, are going on vacation to a remote area for a month. What will you need? How will you bathe? What will you wash your body and hair with? How many pairs of clothes will you need? How and what will you eat? What will you put your food in? What type of bed will you have? Those are just starting questions to get your brain going; however, if you are anything like me, you just may be a bit clueless. That's OK, I got your back.

I am going to break my list down according to faucets, or areas of your baby's life. My hope is that you become completely prepared for your baby and can nix that 2:00 a.m. ride to the supermarket.


You will need to make sure you have everything you need so that you can feed your newborn. The choice is completely yours to make on whether or not you wish to breastfeed, but I plan to address only bottle fed babies for the most part. .You will notice that I have left out formula, or the amount of it you should have or acquire because baby formulas often get changed due to infant allergies. For this particular reason, I would suggest you not stock up on infant formula.

  • Bottles and nipples, or bottle inserts. Please keep in mind, it's also your little one's decision as to which type of bottle they will "take to". Some babies only take to small bottle tops, while others take to larger bottle tops, etc. would suggest buying a variety or sort of bottles and bottle tops- as ultimately, your little guy or gal is going to let you know which they prefer.
  • Bottle brush. Often times forgotten, a bottle brush is a must have.
  • A place to sterilize bottles or clean them. Again, the choice to sterilize bottles is up to the parents.
  • A storage place for bottles and bottle toppers. Many manufacturers now many bottle and nipple caddies which is a great way to keep everything in one place.
  • A bottle cooler. Don't forget this! You will of course also need a bottle cooler when you make trips outside of the house with your infant, drive long distances, or resort to child care, etc. Having said that; you will also need:
  • A bottle warmer. As much as you will need to keep your infant's milk cold, you will also need to be able to warm it. Don't be upset if you find out you purchased a warmer and your child won't drink warm milk. It happens. I suggest you save receipts on any baby item you purchase for this reason.
  • Receiving blankets or rags. Make sure you are equipped with plenty of "throw up rags". Basically, you want to buy at least seven to fourteen of these.  The truth of the matter is; baby vomit can stain. Pick receiving blankets or burpies that you aren't particularly fond of. Make sure you store them in your bottle caddy or bottle container so you are always ready to go!

Furniture and Amenities

Go back to that vacation in your mind. Remember, you're in a pretty remote area. Avoid thinking of a five star hotel; think more ... desolate island.

  • A crib. Honestly, I don't see too many parents forgetting that their infant needs a crib. When we think of a babies, it is usually the first thing that pops into our minds when deciphering their needs. The good news is that there are a wide variety of infant cribs out there and this choice is generally yours to make.
  • Crib amenities: Oh they exist! While it is true that your infant may not be able to move around too much when they are first born, bumper pads are still used. In the beginning months of your infants life, you will notice that they are generally used for the "look" but as your child grows will become a safety measurement.
  • Crib clothes. Make sure to purchase at least one to two heavy blankets for your child's crib (which again will be for the look at first), but buy plenty of sheets. Pillows will not be necessary at this point and are generally a no no when it comes to an infant. Some parents also wish to buy waterproof mattress covers. Again, the choice on that would be yours. Hypoallergenic crib clothing is always your best choice.
  • A changing station. There is a wide variety of changing stations available from mobile to immobile. They are a must have, so chose wisely.
  • Portable changing station: A portable changing station, which is versatile and lightweight will come handy on many excursions away from the home. It's a must have purchase for those little times your baby needs changed, and there is no changing station in site.
  • A bassinet or portable unit. A bassinet is a great item to have for your newborn. . Since they are mobile and easily moved, I would generally not suggest this type of mobile device in a high traffic home.
  • A portable crib. This is a much safer idea than a bassinet. There are tons of portable cribs available; but mainly they are referred to as "play pens".
  • Crib mobile and attachable toys. Babies need help when it comes to development. Equipping a crib mobile and plastic mirrors is not available solely for consoling a little one, but for child development as well.
  • A bathtub. Do not buy an infant bathtub that has no mat or padding on it, as your infant will easily get away from you. Make sure to do your research and pick one that suits you and your little one best. They have infant bathtubs with and without thermometers, with and without attachment hoses, etc. Finding one that is convenient and safe yet durable will be key.
  • Bathing and grooming amenities. Don't forget the following items: wash cloths, baby towels, baby safe soap, baby safe shampoo, a hairbrush or comb, baby powder, lotion, diaper cream or vaseline, and infant fingernail clippers.
  • Infant carseat: A carseat is a hands down, must have. Please make sure that you read the box of any carseat that you purchase, and also check manufacturer specifications for installation and safety.
  • Carseat mirrors. A car seat mirror will gravely reduce your anxiety. With a carseat mirror, you attach a small mirror in front of ( or beside your infant) with a re-direct mirror of sorts near you. With this nifty little device, you can easily glance at your infant without having to turn around while driving.
  • Carseat neck rolls: Some (ok most) babies slouch when placed in a car seat. Pretty soon your 18 inch long infant finds a way to roll themselves in a teeny, tiny little ball whereupon you are pretty sure they cannot breathe anymore. A carseat neck roll, that you place gently around your babies head, will keep their head and neck in place while in their carset.
  • Carseat covers: A one piece car seat cover can keep out any element: wind, rain, snow, etc. It's a great purchase for your baby.
  • Stroller: The advancements in strollers have come a very long way. You can now buy strollers that are there in one (a bassinet, stroller AND infant car seat all in one) or just a stroller, or perhaps a stroller and convertible bed. Do your shopping wisely, and always remember to look up recall lists on your baby furniture and equipment!


Think back to that desolate, pretty isolated trip you are going to take. What is the weather going to be like? What type of clothes should you take? If you are gone for two weeks, do you need more than two weeks clothes? These are all things to take into consideration when having your baby. More often than not ( guilty), we end up buying a host of clothing we do not need, or the wrong type of clothing. Before you pick up that $30.00 adorable infant snowsuit, the first thing to ask yourself is: Will my baby fit into this when there is actually a need for it?

My rule of thumb then is this: Buy what you will need, and when you will need it.

A list of things you will need are these:

  • One piece baby pull overs, generally referred to as "onesies:. 7-14 of these will come in very useful. It is up to you on whether you wish to buy more, but I generally would not buy less.
  • Pajamas: Depending on where you live, when your baby was due, and the climate of your area, you may need to invest in full body pajamas. If, for example, your baby is due in October and you live in a cold state, you should probably invest in no less than 7 one piece pajamas. If you live in a warmer zone and your baby is due in a warmer month, those one piece short sleeved onesies are going to come in very useful.
  • Seven daytime outfits. I really would not do less than weeks worth of full body outfits, including shirt and pants, or shirt and shorts ( again, taking into consideration climate zones, and when your baby is due).
  • Socks and a sock bag. Buy yourself seven pairs of socks for your little one. And, unless you want to constantly be buying more socks, invest in a small sock bag to keep them together in the wash. If you cannot find a sock bag or forget to purchase one, a pillowcase or even your partner's pocket on his/her jeans, is a great place to stuff the socks so that they all come back to you!
  • Shoes/Booties. It is totally up to you on how many pairs of shoes you wish to buy your infant. It is also up to you on what brands you wish to buy, etc. I would recommend at least three pair of shoes. Why? Because they are going to get lost, or even tugged off by baby. For this reason, I would heavily suggest that you not spend a lot of money investing in shoes.
  • Sweaters, Jackets, Snowsuits. Again, we must look at when your baby is due and where you live. If you live in a colder zone, I would typically suggest buying one permanent daily wear jacket or snowsuit, and no less than seven sweaters. As you can see, I find seven to be a lucky number!
  • Hats, gloves, mittens. If the weather in your area calls for such, stock up on these as well. If you can purchase gloves and mittens that are already attached to jackets and such, that is a super fantastic idea. For a newborn however, regardless of climate, you will at least want to have a small handful of baby hats as their little heads can get quite cold.

Ok, so you are still with me and wondering if that is everything. Unfortunately... no. Here is a great list of other amenities and do dads you will need for your little one. Something might pop out and you and remind you of a need. My plan is to gear you to be as well prepared as possible:


Amenities list (the often forgotten accessories)

What is interesting about this list, is that some of it contains items or things you will need that require zero to little money to obtain.

  • Your pediatrician's number, preferably in a form you can hang near the phone or on the refrigerator. Ah! A pediatrician! I just killed two birds in one stone: If you don't have a pediatrician for your little one, start searching now. If you do, make sure you have their number available to you. Also, make sure the pediatrician's card and number also gets placed in wallets and purses. It's a good idea to make extra cards or obtain them if you can.
  • A diaper or travel bag, and perhaps two of them! It is completely up to you what type, brand or style of bag you would chose, but I would shop according to the following: accessibility, and ease of use.
  • Diapers. If anything, you should have been stocking up on diapers. The neat thing about disposable diapers is that they are just that and require little to no amenities. Once they are used, you simply toss them away. Cloth and other reusable diapers come with amenities: pins and plastic under coverings. Make sure you have a hefty stash of whatever type of diaper you chose available. Also, don't forget the diaper wipes! I would chose a hypoallergenic, alcohol free diaper wipe.
  • A diaper receptacle. Most new parents don't want to place dirty diapers in the regular trash can, and believe me- that is completely understandable. Often times however, we don't realize until it is too late that we have nowhere to put the used diapers. Pick up a Diaper Genie or other receptacle. Also, if you are using cloth diapers, you surely do not want to store used diapers with regular clothes ( not even your baby's clothes), so have a separate storage unit for used diapers until they can be washed.
  • Nasal aspirator. Babies can get quite "snotty". A nasal aspirator can do the trick for you, and quite quickly.
  • Umbilical cord care! Make sure you have rubbing alcohol and q tips on hand. You are going to have to keep that umbilical cord clean until it falls off on its own.
  • A baby's growth book. These types of books are usually available from your obstetrician or pediatrician. If you cannot obtain one that way, look for e-downloads online, or purchase one at a major retail store. A good baby growth book should have slots to record each of your baby's visits, including their weight, height, any shots received, and any complaints you had, as well as illnesses.
  • A working camera with all amenities. No one wants to say "Quick take a picture, its his/her first smile!" only to hear "I can't! The batteries are dead!". Check your camera often to make sure it is working and ready to go.
  • A photo album. We live in a digital age, for sure. But please don't regard paper trails quite yet. While it may be awesome that you can store 200 pictures on your cell phone and upload them all at once to facebook to share with everyone you know, the truth is... nothing beats a good old fashion paper photo album.
  • A "Baby's First" book. Believe me, this is something you will want in years to come.
  • Medications and medicine droppers. Talk with your pediatrician about which medications he or she would recommend for fevers or upset stomachs, and then purchase those medications. Don't forget the dropper and also please be sure to give the amount listed on the bottle or as prescribed by your pediatrician.
  • Easy sleeping amenities. Another unfortunate lesson many parents have had to learn is that getting a newborn to sleep can be a rather daunting task.. All babies are different, but we must keep in mind that it can be quite scary for any baby to leave Mommy's womb. The womb is dark, quiet, and ... well... a tight squeeze. If you have an infant that screams bloody murder every time you put them down, chances are- they feel way too much freedom. Invest in some blankets that you can use to "swaddle" your baby and have ready some nature sound cd's, etc. You will want to create the feel and sound of your baby still being inside the womb to ease his or her fears.
  • Laundry soap. Babies are sensitive. You will want to buy chemical free or "easy" washing soaps such as Ivory for Babies. Avoid bleaches and other harsh ingredients so as to not irritate your babies skin.
  • Vaporizer and humidifier. With a new environment outside of the womb, your baby is going to get stuffed up easily. These two items will come in very useful.
  • A baby monitor. When looking for a monitor, you want to make sure it has good range. I wouldn't skimp on this item; quality really can be everything here. Don't forget those extra batteries too! You're going to need them. Also, you can purchase baby televisions as well. Instead of just hearing your baby, you can actually see them as well!
  • A help me out! Please don't forget a help me out, or bail out person! Ask your friends and families which one would be willing to come help you on a whim. Sure, we are new parents and want to do it all, but the chances are- we won't be able to; especially when you have an infant that feeds often or barely sleeps. Plus, partner time is so very important as well. If you can trust your infant with your mother, for example, have her come over every second Tuesday for two hours while you and your partner go on a dinner date. And remember, if you have a fabulous baby monitor ( or two), you could even take one with you! (Eventually however, you are really going to need to take time for yourself, and trust baby with Mom!)
  • Insect repellent. What? insect repellent for an infant? Seriously? Yes. Seriously. If your baby is born mid summer, chances are- you are going to have your baby outside. Further chances are, you aren't going to want mosquitoes to have a feast on your infant, and you really don't want a tick or two having a go either. Please never spray insect repellent on your baby's skin or clothes. Do your research on organic, or all natural repellents and spray away. Again, avoid harsh chemicals. I would prefer a lemon and garlic water spritzer over a harsh, cancer causing toxin any day.
  • Pacifiers. This decision is yours to make ( and often times your infant's decision to make). Some infants always need to suckle, even when they are not hungry. Don't forget the pacifier attachments as well. These are little clip ons you can use to always keep the pacifier handy. Please know that some infants have been strangled by these. Use them properly and never leave them on when you aren't near your baby.
  • Sunscreen. Yes. Seriously. Sunscreen. I like the Water Babies line of sunscreen and its generally safe to use on infants. Again, do your research. An infant can get sunburned even inside a vehicle due to light reflection on windows.

Though my list is not complete and will probably be ever growing, my hope is that a really great start can be found here. Preparing for your baby can be an anxiety ridden task; always checking and rechecking that you have the items you will need. The best list around is usually going to have you still looking for an open store at 2 am, but I doubt it will be mine!

And hey, one more thing: Congratulations! Now get geared up and complete the list!

How to Swaddle A Baby Properly


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