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What are the newborn baby essentials you need, like really need?

As a Mama of two and founder of Bon + Bear who has navigated motherhood twice in the last 4 years (with a now 18m and 4-year-old), this is my essential checklist for your newborn baby.

I have been asked this a few times lately by friends and followers of Bon + Bear “what are the must-haves to buy for a baby, what would I recommend for a first-time mother” honestly it is overwhelming knowing where to start and easy to just buy everything because it is marketed in such a way that you are told you ‘NEED’ to have it when a lot you really don't.

These are the things you will need and everything else is just nice to have! If that’s what you want or works for you, then buy away because much like motherhood there is no one size fits all and you have to do it your way. 

With Black Friday sales starting a week in advance this year and Cyber Monday coming up too, now is a great time to buy your big-ticket items like Prams/Cribs/Pumps and take advantage of discounts on all the newborn baby goods. 

Some of these may crossover with our Ultimate Hospital Bag Checklist as a lot of these things recommended you will continue to use daily through the first few months, so if you haven’t already read that then start here.
  

NEWBORN BABY ESSENTIALS – FOURTH TRIMESTER

BABY CLOTHING

  • Sleepsuits with zips if you don’t want to faff with poppers in the middle of the night. Go for a variety of colours and enough for 2 a day so you aren’t constantly washing.
    • Also bonus if they have integrated fold down mitts for their hands as babies will naturally have their hands by their face and scratch easily, sperate mitts never stay on and you always end up losing.
  • Bodysuits long or short sleeved depending on the season at least 2 per day as they will poop or pee through most things
  • Muslins for any milk spills or reflux as you never know. With my first baby we used at least 3 a day as he had GORD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) and was sick after every feed, whereas my daughter wasn’t, but I had an oversupply with my milk and would leak all over her, so they really are helpful in many situations.
  • Pram suit/Snowsuit depending on the seasons
  • Knitted Cardigan to pop on over anything instead of a bulky coat, I love the Baby Gap and M&S ones with teddy bear ears on the hood.
  • Rompers if you are in the middle of summer or live in a warmer climate as you don’t want them to overheat.
    • Always check the back of their neck for heat using the back of your index finger, it should feel like a warm piece of toast, any hotter then take a layer off and monitor
All those baby outfits are cute, but with a newborn that is typically spent curled in a ball or needing their nappy changed 8+ times a day, just don’t do it to yourself. Even leggings are difficult to navigate, keep it simple, you have months/years after to dress them up cute!
 

HOME

  • Moses Basket & Bedside Crib depending on your preference as they will sleep in your room for the first 6 months. I had a Moses basket downstairs and a Tutti Bambini Crib in the bedroom which also folded down so easily for travel and familiarity for them and saves on buying a travel cot too.
    • Make sure the mattress is brand new and firm to decrease the risk of SIDS, make sure you read up on safe sleeping with Lullaby Trust.
    • Keep the cot clear of anything loose, no toys/teddies, and the new guidance for blankets is to not swaddle but to tuck the blanket into the sides of the mattress and bottom so it stays in place
    • Feet should always touch the bottom of the crib so they can’t slide anywhere.
    • *Sleepyheads or any sort of nest pods are not safe for sleeping, they can cause SIDS and if you really want to buy then only ever use in constant supervision in the daytime. I would just say don’t waste money on one and buy a moses basket for daytime.
  • Baby Blanket – this needs to be cellular with the little holes in it as it is super safe, I would buy 2 of these so you have a back up for washing as they will be using this for bedtime every night
  • Crib Sheets – make sure you have plenty spare for any nappy leaks, it's inevitable
  • Nightlightespecially when you could be waking every hour in the first few weeks, you don’t want a bright table lamp constantly in your face
  • Blackout Blind – always good to start off on the right foot, babies sleep best in total darkness and as they get bigger past the 4 month mark when you might then be thinking of routines it is beneficial for linking sleep cycles to then sleep longer.
    • You can buy temporary options that have suction cups, pull down paper ones or even velcro that just go behind your usual blind or curtains so when baby leaves your room post 6 months then it can be easily moved. Also great for travel.
  • White Noise Machine – in the same vein as above but also because baby has been used to a constant white noise in your womb, use this from day one so you all sleep a bit more soundly.
    • We have always used the popular Marpac which is portable and ideal for naps on the go in the pram, in the car.
    • The safe decibel level is 50db max (similar to a hoover/shower) and you can download a free iPhone app to test easily.
    • Always place the sound machine at least 6ft away from their head

TRAVEL

  • Stroller/Pram/Car Seat – We used the Nuna Mixx travel system with the car seat and isofix, bassinet and then toddler seat. It’s a great pram, so easy to use, looks modern and has a huge basket underneath for storage which is crucial as you end up needing to go out with lots and doubles up as grocery shopping storage too
  • Baby Wrap/Carrier/Sling – It will really save you from being ‘stuck’ holding a sleeping baby on days when you want to get out, cook or just have your hands free. It’s honestly a no brainer! I might be biased as we designed one - The Maine Baby Wrap, but I tried other structured carriers like Cybex/Baby Bjorn with my first son and they were always uncomfortable, such a faff with all the clips and adjustments to get it to fit my body and then my husband (you have to change it every time), plus the fact that for a new baby who is typically under 8lbs they are too big.
    • If you are going to be sat down reading/watching something or just wearing all day, then a stretchy soft wrap is your best friend
  • Nappy/Diaper Bag – I personally never bought one specifically for this, instead buying a roomy tote I loved that was more my style, then had a nappy bag insert and was organised with drawstring bags and pouches with essentials easily grabbable.
    • Not biased… ;) but if you wanted to start somewhere – and of course why I designed these - then you can shop our Essentials Pouch and Mum Stuff Bag.

BATHING/HYGEINE

  • Bath Seat & Thermometer – The Angelcare soft touch bath support really is great. You simply lie baby on it, it has a fill guide on the side for your tub and it means you don’t need to panic having to hold them in water.
    • Babies don’t need to be washed in the first 2 weeks (it used to be 1 week) as they are born with vernix coating the skin which is from the womb and helps keep dryness at bay and protect their skin. Keep all this goodness on and wash with something very mild like Aveeno when it is time.
    • Ideal bath temnperature is between 37.5 – 38.5 for reference
  • Hooded Baby Towels/Washcloths/Toiletries (look for hypoallergenic, sensitive skin options)
  • Changing Mat/Nappies/Wipes/Nappy Bags (newborn size for the first few weeks as nearly all babies will fit in this size!)
    • Top Tip: Always ensure the leg holes are with the frill bits poking out when you put on and if you have a boy, point the peeper down!
    • Have a nappy at hand ASAP for changes as babies tend to go once they feel the colder air.
  • Nappy Barrier Cream - Metanium is great
  • Regular Thermometer - the head one is the best as there’s no panicking to put in tiny ears
  • Baby grooming kit – nail clippers, nail file, hairbrush
 

NEWBORN BABY ESSENTIALS FOR MUM 

Don't forget to read our hospital bag checklist as there are toiletry essentials on there.
  • Loose comfy clothing like leggings, drawstring trousers, sweatpants, dresses etc as you will still have a baby bump for some time (no it doesn’t disappear once your baby is out like movies have you believe!), so don’t pressure yourself into bouncing back because it’s not normal and you will just feel miserable. Remember: fourth trimester means to treat it like a pregnancy stage still!
  • Big black knickers – you will bleed all day every day for up to 6-8 weeks, some more. Sorry if this is TMI, but again there isn’t enough honesty about this anywhere and midwives don’t even prep you for this in antenatal appointments!
  • Maternity pads – following on from the above, not sanitary pads. These are bigger, longer and much comfier as you might have stitches and as I said, the blood loss is a lot heavier than your period.
  • Breastpads – if you are breastfeeding then you will go through these a lot while your supply is all over the place in the first 6 weeks, reusable ones are softer and you can wash so I would recommend these. Or go for disposable ones which do get a little scratchy after a few hours wear as there is PU in them.
  • Breast pump – I would always recommend Medela as they are what is used in hospitals and they are the gold standard of pumps. I have hired their hospital grade ones or you can buy their Medela Solo which is portable/quiet and one I personally used. The other option is a wearable one like Elvie which you pop in your bra without any wires and can go about your day.
    • You don’t need a breast pump initially as you can buy it quickly when you do need it.
    • If you are breastfeeding on demand then you shouldn’t need one unless you really wanted to introduce a bottle for certain feeds, but this isn’t recommended for the first 8 weeks until feeding is well established and baby is latching well to avoid nipple/teat confusion; again this is the same for dummies/pacifiers as this can mask hunger signs and then cause slow weight gain
    • Babies should always feed on demand whether breast or bottle fed, this is super FREQUENT in the first few weeks, especially during cluster feeding hours so don’t start thinking they aren’t getting enough. See below.
    • Always monitor nappy output, this should be 6+ minimum wet or dirty nappies a day and they will feel soaking, not just a little pee. This is a good gauge that they are gaining weight well, plus regular health visit weighs.
    • It is always worth discussing with your Lactation Consultant/Infant Feeding Team if you have concerns about bottles/pumping/supply/pain so you can fix any issues quickly. Especially when it comes to tongue ties.
    • Breast Storage Bags/Pots – if you do decide to express, the Lansinoh bag options are compact and you can write on easily the date and oz. Always store mil in 1-2oz qtys because once thawed it must be used within 24hrs, and it is quicker to defrost if smaller qty.
Read our breastfeeding top concerns blog to get a head start on some of the common things most mums face when breastfeeding.
 
  • Milk Collectors/Silicone Pump – like a Hakka Pump or Elvie Curve. These are designed to attach to one boob by gently suctioning on while you feed from the other side and you ‘catch the let down’ as you feed, then you can store in the fridge/freezer to build a supply to give to baby for bottles if you wanted.
    • I used the Elvie Curve  because it fit into my bra and was discreet. I would get around 2-3oz per feed collected every day, which I froze and didn’t end up using until she was around 8 weeks old after being in the hospital with RSV and needing extra milk to gain back some weight. So it’s always handy to have a stash just in case, and collecting milk is far easier than pumping!
    • They are designed to gently express using suction, but I wouldn’t call it true expressing so they are great to use for the first few weeks when your milk will be in abundance
  • Nursing Pillow so you don’t end up hunched over with back pain! I have tried several and trust me, the investment and only one I would ever recommend now is the BBHUGME. It’s worth its weight in gold!
    • Also a better alternative to a specific rocking/feeding chair which is bulky, you can literally use this in any seat or bed.
  • Nursing Bras/Nursing Vests– buy unstructured ones and it is worth having at least 2 daytime ones and then non-clipped nighttime ones which are softer for sleeping in. I loved the H&M ones for daytime and Seraphine for night time.
  • Breastfeeding/Nursing Cover – not a necessity but one I really would recommend as a first time mum when it’s all very new to you. Especially if you are nervous about feeding outside of your home, or feeling exposed, it will just put you more at ease and cause less anxiety. Let’s be honest, as a new mum when you are learning to breastfeed and have little sleep anything that helps is a bonus!
    • We sell an award-winning one in case you didn’t know – The Chicago Loop. Loved By Parents Gold Best Product For Breastfeeding and Junior Design Highly Commended Best Maternity Brand Product
  • Bottles/Pre-made formula – whether you decide not to breastfeed because it is YOUR choice, or you want to share feeding with your partner it is handy to have some things as a backup.
    • Always buy size 0 teats if you are breastfeeding and this should never change if you want to continue to do so
    • Always ‘pace feed’ so baby is upright, bottle at a 90’ angle and allow them to open wide for the teat like they would when breastfeeding too
    • Aptamil do pre-made formula packs which are easy to pour in if you need an oz or so to top up (if you have been advised to triple feed and have chosen not to pump) as they last 24h in the fridge once opened and require no mixing
    • I would recommend the MAM bottles as they self-sterilise in the microwave and you don’t need to buy a big bulky steriliser. You can also buy steriliser bags like Munchkin for any other pump parts, dummies etc and are so great for travelling
  • Bottle Brush/Drying Rack – if you are bottle feeding then make sure you are super sterile cleaning where you can, a separate brush and rack for all parts and clean them regularly too.

This is a side note: Lactation teas/cookies sound great and might taste great but they DO NOT increase milk supply, even if you ate them all day. Milk is made by frequent emptying of the breast, the more baby feeds the more milk you make, if they feed more they are telling your body to make more as they are growing and hungry. The best thing you can do is keep hydrated, eat well in general with nutritious energy food and then let baby feed as frequently as they want. Read our what to eat when breastfeeding post for inspiration. 

Top Tip: Google Cluster Feeding and Night 2 now so you don’t panic when it happens. Stacey Zimmels of Feed Eat Speak has a great free downloadable pdf on this here.
 

BABY ESSENTIALS 3 MONTHS+ 

These might seem obvious, but just to be sure, you will need these at some point around 3m+ and continue to use them in the first year but not essential for the first few months.
 
CLOTHING
Cute outfits in 3m+ size (season dependent)
Baby Booties
Coat/Jacket
Bibs
Socks
Hats

HOME
Nursery Cot and Mattress
Tog Sleeping Bags
Baby Monitor
Nappy Bin
Bath Toys
Angelcare Bath Seat

PLAY
Black and White Books
Age appropriate sensory toys
Bouncer/Jumperoo
Playmat
Tummy Time Aid
 
WEANING
Highchair
Weaning Plates/Cups/Utensils (6m+)
Splash Mat
Baby proofing kit
 
It might seem overwhelming as it is a lot initially as a first time mother, instead of subsequent babies where you have already bought most things, but in those first few months after having a baby, there isn’t really much you need. All your little bundle will want to do is Feed, Sleep and Repeat and if they aren’t sleeping they will just want to be close to you 24/7 – which is totally normal!

So when you think ‘why won't my baby sleep in his Moses basket/crib/sleepyhead*' etc, the reason is they just need your warmth, smell and heartbeat which is all they have ever known and you need to just go with it because every parenting book that tells you baby will sleep independently is lying, or you have a unicorn. 
 
The time in the ‘fourth trimester’ as it is affectionately known - the 90 days post-birth — because its seen as an extension of your pregnancy carrying your baby until they 'wake up' and become aware of their surroundings in this new world.

The best thing you can do as a new mother, and my top tip for anyone is to be kind to yourself, slow down, embrace all those messy moments of no sleep, no showering, and never doing everything quite as it should be, instead lean into it. Binge on the Netflix series, buy a kindle and read all those books you’ve been meaning to, take slow walks in the fresh air and remember the days won't be like this forever, the hours might feel long but before you know it they need you less and less.

I hope you found this useful and at least a little less stressful with something to work towards in your pregnancy and if you are in your final trimester, just know that You’ve got this Mama!
 
MJ
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For daily parenting, pregnancy and postpartum advice follow bon_and_bear on Instagram

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