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Your newborn checklist: what does a new baby need?

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Congratulations! You’re expecting a baby!

Your due date is drawing ever closer, and you have lists as long as your arm of things to do and things to buy for your new baby. But what do you really need? What’s essential? What’s a nice to have? What’s just going to sit in its box and never get used…

Well, first off, this is your baby. Your baby to bring up as you wish, so if you have the means, and it makes you feel better to Buy. All. The. Things. then go right ahead, you’re only going to have this little one once, don’t let anyone stop you. BUT, if your means are more limited, or you just want to be sure you’re not going to fill your home with unnecessary clutter, then read on for my thoughts on what your essentials really are for a newborn (hint: it’s actually not too much!).

  1. A safe place to sleep Whether this is a cot, a crib, a moses basket, the world really is your oyster! So many options across a wide range of budgets. Essentially your baby needs a safe sleeping surface, which consists of a new firm, flat, waterproof mattress (plus sheet and blankets/sleeping bags of an appropriate size/tog rating). All sleep your baby has for at least the first 6 months of your baby’s life should be supervised (ie. they should be in the same room as you at all times), so you might also wish to consider something safe for your baby to sleep in in your living area too. You can read more safe sleeping tips guidance at The Lullaby Trust.

  2. Car travel If you are planning to travel with your baby in a car, then you will need a car seat for them to travel in. Again, there are an overwhelming number of car seats on the market, so do your research! The safest option for a newborn is usually a capsule car seat, that can be lifted in and out of the car with a handle. It’s worth looking at what testing each car seat you’re considering has undergone to help you determine how safe it is. You should only use a car seat where you know the full history and can ensure it’s never been in an accident (even accidents at very low speeds can cause damage not visible to the naked eye). Rear facing car seats are proven to be five times safer, and it is recommended that your child therefore stays rear facing for as long as possible (to a minimum age of 4), so it’s worth doing your research ahead of time.

  3. Travel by foot Again a whole host of options for you here. You could get a pram or travel system, or you could choose to babywear (safely, following the TICKS guidance), or have both available. Whichever you choose, again there are a wide variety of options to suit your budget. If you choose a pram or travel system, then ensure there is a lie flat option suitable for newborns. Babywearing is wonderful for easing baby through the fourth trimester period (and well beyond!), and provides you with a hands-free cuddle. Sling libraries are a great way to ‘try before you buy’, whilst also obtaining expert advice.

  4. Clothes It’s so easy to get swept away and buy more clothes than you need for your baby. Remember your newborn has never worn clothes, and so soft, comfortable, cosy options are ideal. It’s difficult to predict exactly what size your baby will be at birth, nor how quickly they will grow, so whilst the temptation is there to buy lots in one size, it can be worth stocking up on some essentials (sleepsuits, vests, cardigans), and seeing what else you need (and in what sizes) once your little one is here. If you are buying sizes ahead of time, then also think ahead to what season it might be once your baby will be big enough to wear them (no use having load of light summer options, if your baby is predicted to hit that size in the middle of winter!)

  5. Bathing There’s no rush to bath your newborn (top and tailing them is perfectly sufficient at first), but when you do decide to bath them, then it’s worth having a think about how you might do this easily and safely. You could get a standard baby bath, a bath with inbuilt sling, bath seat, bath reducer, inflatable bath or even decide to share the big bath together. You must ensure that your little one is never left unattended in water, that you follow the max fill guides and always check the temperature of the water (with a thermometer or your elbow) before you place baby in.

  6. Consumables (or reusables!) Your baby will be sure to get through many, many nappy changes over the first few weeks and months of their life. You could use disposable nappies and wipes/cotton wool (again, worth not bulk buying too many nappies in the same size, in case your baby doesn’t get through them all before moving up a size), or you may opt to use reusable/washables nappies and/or wipes, for eco or cost purposes (you can check out The Nappy Lady for a bit more info, or your local nappy library).

  7. White noise To recreate that womb-like environment for your little one, then white noise can be magic! You can, of course, buy a whole forest of soft-toy farm and woodland creatures, but you’ll do equally well (if not better) with just a free white noise app on an old phone/tablet, or a white noise machine.

Of course there are many many other nice-to-haves, semi-useful, vaguely handy things you can buy, but they’re my top tips for your main essentials for the first few weeks – attend to your babe’s major needs, and as you all ease your way through the fog of those early days, you’ll feel thankful that you’re not falling over a pile of teeny, tiny baby shoes that’ll never get worn!

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