The online newborn checklists will make you feel like you need a ton of stuff. Really, you only need a few things when you're bringing home baby. A lot of the other items are optional. For example, the baby doesn’t get their first bath for a bit after coming home. Getting baby soap can wait. If breastfeeding works out well from the start, you may not need bottles for a while, if ever, so those can wait too.
A lot of what you buy beforehand depends on what makes you most comfortable, and what works with your budget. Most of this stuff you can get at a second-hand store or thru online swap sites. Not to mention, you will likely have a friend or family member who is dying to pass off their baby stuff they don’t want around anymore.
Here are our suggestions for bringing home baby:
- Baby wipes, a small pack of newborn diapers and a small pack of size 1 diapers. Some newborns are a little big for newborn size and grow out of them right away. Plus, the size 1 diapers will hold a little more pee and poop which is never a bad thing!
- A blanket to swaddle the baby with. The nurses at your hospital can show you how or you can watch on YouTube beforehand or ask a friend.
- A few burp clothes.
- If formula feeding- some bottles, a bottle brush, and some formula to start. Don’t get too much of any one brand of formula. It is common to need to switch to a sensitive formula if baby is getting indigestion.
- If breastfeeding- A breast pump is usually provided by your health insurance. You can also rent a hospital grade pump. Start checking into your health insurance at around 6 months pregnant or so, so you can find out how to get the breast pump. Pharmacies or medical equipment supply stores will carry them. You will either have to drive to a local store or get one from a DME supply store online. Make sure to shop around a little because some supply stores will provide a carry pack and other accessories. Some will provide only the bare bones. Get the most for your dollar! Don’t forget bags to hold the pumped milk and a marker to note the date/time you pumped it.
- A small can of formula in case breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Many formula companies will send you free samples in the weeks leading up to your due date. Or ask the hospital if they have any. Others prefer not to have any samples around because they are afraid they will give up breastfeeding too easily if there is an alternative within reach. You decide what will work for you and don’t worry about what works for anyone else.
- Car seat- this is an essential bringing home baby must-have! The hospital will not let you leave without an infant carseat! Be prepared to bring it inside on your last day at the hospital so the staff can show you how to buckle your new baby in safely. This can be tricky if you plan on using mass transit or walking home with your baby, depending on if you’re living in a city, etc. Ask others what they have done in your situation or leave a reply here so we can update this section with the most helpful info!
- A small set of clothes. Many “been there done that” moms prefer just using onesies for the first few weeks, with just a few other outfits for when company is coming over. They make onesies in short or long sleeves so you can plan accordingly for the time of year and the temperature. The snap-across kimono style onesies are awesome for changing diapers and handling poo-explosions without having to pull a poopie onesie over your baby's head. You can also drag the poopie onesie down the torso. Onesies have a little room for this in the shoulders to avoid just such a problem. Socks for the feet and and to cover sharp finger nails are a good idea too, as well as a soft hat if you’re afraid the baby is cold.
- Dye-free sensitive laundry detergent. You don’t have to use specific “baby brands”- any that have the least chemicals and least allergens will work. There are many laundry detergent companies that make “Free & Clear” type detergents nowadays.
- A rectal thermometer. You will be nervous when the baby is crying, so its a good thing to keep on hand. If you call a doctor with any questions, they will definitely ask you what the baby’s temperature is. So be prepared with a little Vaseline and a thermometer.
- A place for the baby to sleep- a crib, bassinet or Pack & Play.
- Choose your baby’s pediatrician while you are still pregnant. The hospital staff and your OBGYN may ask who your child’s pediatrician will be so they can visit your baby while you are still in the hospital. Otherwise, a hospital pediatrician will examine them, which is also fine. Think about whether you prefer a group or solo practice, weekend and/or evening hours, on-call availability, etc. You can read reviews and schedule introductory appointments with your top choices. Talk to your health insurance company about how to add your new baby to your policy and make sure you understand which pediatricians are in-network and how your coverage works.
Optional but often recommended:
- Gas drops. Newborn babies are infamous for having sensitive digestive systems. There are plenty of remedies to try at your local drug store. There are also massage and burping techniques. Many parents have sworn by gas drops, gripe water or other alternative remedies, and then other parents really like to use massage or specific burping techniques that may help. It doesn’t hurt to ask your pediatrician what they are comfortable with and have a little on hand.
- A pacifier can be a lifesaver. They don’t cost much- have one or two on hand in case you need it, and hope you don’t have to use one. Some will say pacifiers can interfere with breastfeeding, but most moms I know did not have a problem with this.
- A swing, Momaroo or something mechanical that can help lull the baby to sleep. The problem is, you probably won’t know which will work best for your baby until they are here and trying it and it’s working. This is a great high-ticket item to borrow from a friend to see if your baby even likes it, or buy second-hand on a swap site, before spending a lot of money on something your baby won’t even like. Here is a great review of your options for baby swings.
- A baby bath, gentle baby bath shampoo/body wash (usually all-in-one), soft washcloth and some baby sized nail clippers. You can also just use a basin for warm soapy water and washcloth and give the baby a sponge bath on top of a soft towel.
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