7 Newborn Essentials
This post contains links to products and brands I have used and recommend. Some are affiliate links, which help me generate a small amount of income to support my blog.
I remember how overwhelming it was sifting through the lists of suggested baby gear when I had my eldest, 16 years ago. I have spent the last 9 years working for a retailer specializing in baby gear, and have gained more perspective on how overwhelming it can be to narrow needs down to just the basics.
This is my list of baby "must have's", in no particular order:
I recommend picking this one up ahead of time. In fact, I would suggest buying two, as these Nneka pillows make fantastic body positioning pillows for those last few months of pregnancy. Having two also means you can keep one upstairs and one downstairs, so you always have one when you need one.
The weight of this pillow means it doesn't shift around, which is really great if you end up having a c-section (like I did with my fifth). The buckwheat hulls also mean it maintains its shape and doesn't compress, like other pillows. They are also great to use as a bedrail, and as a prop for tummy time when your baby is older.
The Nneka pillow is shaped like a bolster, which gives it a longevity that other nursing pillows don't have. When not using mine, I keep them at the top of our bed. You would never know these beautiful, Canadian-made bolsters were breastfeeding pillows by looking at them!
My newborn carrier of choice is the Boba stretchy wrap. Mine has now been used with three of my five children. It's easy to care for, simple to use -- just tie it on in the morning, and leave it on -- and has a great price point. It is particularly useful for those first 3-4 months, when baby wants to be close all the time and you want to have your hands free.
The Boba wrap is available in a wide range of gorgeous colours and prints, and is "one size fits most". The picture above is me wearing #Kid5 at work, earlier this year. (Yes, my babies come to work with me -- isn't that awesome? The Boba wrap makes it possible!)
Once baby reaches 20lbs, you will find a stretchy wrap less supportive. (It's STRETCHY!) I suggest moving to a soft-structured carrier (SSC) at that point. If you are buying your SSC before your baby is born, I suggest buying one that is newborn compatible. It can be nice to have a back-up carrier for when your stretchy wrap is in the wash.
The Lillébaby has a variety of structured carriers that can be used from birth into toddlerhood, and allow for outward-facing, inward-facing, hip carries, and backwearing, in addition to being newborn compatible. At the time of this post, they are on sale (Canada: up to 30% off / USA: 30% off). In addition, they offer toddler carriers, if you find you need something larger for a toddler or preschooler!
3. At least 3 mattress protectors.
I only had one square mattress protector pad with my first baby. Fast-forward to my fifth baby and we easily have 6 or 7. They have so many uses! They are great in that last month of pregnancy to place on the bed in case your water breaks. They are great postpartum to protect your mattress again staining from postpartum bleeding and leaking breasts. They are indispensable for beneath your newborn, whether your baby sleeps in bed with you or sleeps in a crib.
They become a great waterproof protector for carpets during tummy time, and you'll find yourself reaching for them again when you venture into toilet training.
Once school starts, they earn their weight in gold protecting beds and soft surfaces from the ravages of stomach ailments. Heck, I've even taken them camping to ensure there is a clean, dry place to sit on the ground in case of rain!
Most people will find 3 is a good number: 1 to use, 1 to wash, and 1 to hold in reserve. They come in a variety of sizes, but I find the 3' x 3' size the most versatile.
4. A good car seat.
A good car seat is an absolute necessity. The best child restraint seat will always be the one that fits best in your vehicle, but I have a strong preference for Britax products for their ease of use.
You have two options for a newborn. A bucket seat has a base that installs in the vehicle, and carrying handle so it can be removed from the car. Some families prefer this because they find it more convenient or it fits their baby better. Bucket seats are generally outgrown in the first year, and are replaced with a convertible seat.
You can also choose to use a convertible seat with your new baby. A convertible seat stays installed rear-facing in your vehicle until your child meets the milestones necessary for the seat to be turned forward facing. I used a bucket seat with my first baby, but my next four were in convertibles from the beginning.
Swaddling your newborn can help them feel secure and encourage better sleep, but muslin swaddling blankets are useful for so much more! They are thin and easy to tuck into a diaper bag so you have a clean surface wherever you go, tie two corners together for an instant nursing cover, or use them to shade a baby in a car seat or stroller. My toddler often asks me to turn one into a cape for her. We've also used them as baby towels because they are very absorbent and soft, but dry quickly.
I find 5 or 6 is the happy number for us -- we usually have a couple in the wash, one stuffed into the diaper bag, one on the chair where my baby often naps, and a couple extras folded and ready to go. With muslin blankets, bigger is better -- look for ones that are at least 45" x 45".
Forget outfits -- pyjamas are easier to wash!
Most of my babies were spitters or droolers, so we would go through at least 4 sleepers or newborn gowns a day in the early weeks as a result. If you are using disposable diapers, you will also likely loose a couple a day due to "Poo-namis", as disposables aren't as effective as cloth diapers at containing those explosive newborn poops.
I like to have around 12 - 16 sleepers and newborn gowns. I keep more newborn gowns in the mix than sleepers because they fit for longer and are generally easier for diaper changes -- I aim for about a 70/30 mix of gowns and sleepers.
Parade Organics makes great sleepers that unzip from the bottom as well as down from the top, making diaper changes on a sleeping baby a breeze. I also love their newborn gowns. The cotton is thick and soft, and I don't find shrinkage a problem with their clothing the way I have with others. My other favourite newborn gowns are the knotted ones made by Electrik Kidz. They tie at the bottom, keeping those tiny toes warm and cozy, and come in an adorable range of prints.
I have been buying both of these lines for years and am very happy with how well they have held up and passed down through several of my children.
This sounds obvious, I know, but I have also seen too many people trying to make one size cloth diapers work on a newborn, or try to skip the newborn size disposables in favour of the somewhat less expensive larger size.
Don't do it. You will regret it. You will also spend a lot of time washing poop off of stuff and getting stains out of fabric.
If you are choosing to use disposables, Amazon offers a "Subscribe and Save" option that delivers them right to your door. Signing up for Amazon Family gives you access to other savings, too. If you are a Prime member, you get a further 20% discount on diapers.
If you are using cloth (my preference), you will either need a combination of covers, inserts/diapers, or all-in-one(AIO)/pocket diapers:
With newborns, I find a combination of a fitted diaper and cover works best at containing poop. Mother-ease Sandy's are cost effective, absorbent, and the leg and waist elastics are snug -- perfect for keeping everything in the diaper.
You will need to use a cover with Sandy's -- my favourite cover is the Nuggles Tuck-Wrap-Go. It has a double gusset, is adjustable, and comes in two overlapping sizes so that you always have a cover that fits. If you prefer a simpler approach, Nuggles also makes a gorgeous bamboo insert you can use instead of a fitted diaper.
When using a combination of diapers, inserts, and covers, I suggest having 5 or 6 covers, and 24 - 30 diapers for the 0 - 6mos stage.
If you prefer to have everything you need for cloth diapering bundled up into one convenient package, both Nuggles and Mother-ease have diaper bundles available for purchase.
If simplicity and a streamlined diapering stash is more your style, the Mother-ease Uno is a fantastic one-size AIO, designed with ease-of-use, absorbency, and effective washing in mind. We now have several in our stash and they fit my 8mos old and my almost-3yr old really well. With a newborn, however, I would suggest starting with their 6 - 12lb size (which actually fits until around 15lbs). Bonus? Mother-ease products are manufactured in Canada!