Navigating baby gear can be a bit of a nightmare. When I was creating my registry, I leaned hard on family & friends who recently had babies and also did a ton research on my own. Even so, there were so many things I missed.
So I’m going to share with you what I wish I had: a completely unsponsored, unbiased, completely tested list of the things you actually need for a newborn baby. These newborn essentials are the things we ran out to buy afterwards or were so grateful someone had gifted or recommended to us beforehand. Buckle up, because this is going to be a long one!
A quick disclaimer: every baby is different. I’ve joked numerous times that a lot of being a parent is buying stuff your baby hates and then trying to find a replacement they love. A great way to get around this is to borrow items from friends (and then pay it forward when someone else has a new baby!).
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If anyone tells you a sterilizer isn’t worth the money, don’t believe them. Our only regret with our Baby Brezza Sterilizer is not opening the box sooner. Aside from the convenience of sterilizing bottles, pump parts and pacifiers without having to boil them, the Baby Brezza also has a handy drying feature. The dry feature is the key here – when you’re pumping multiple times per day and washing parts nonstop, avoiding the air-dry is a major time saver. This is the most-used item in our house.
On the off chance you manage a crib nap, you’ll want a baby monitor. We purchased the Philips Avent Video Baby Monitor and love the crisp image. It features a secure connection – no wifi here – so it always works and can’t be hacked. You can place the camera on the edge of the crib or on a shelf, or you can also wall-mount it.
Somewhere To Put Baby
I realized this error early on, before we had a carrier. We had nowhere to put baby. If we needed a second to use the bathroom, to wash a dish, to prepare a bottle – we were having to do it one-handed or not at all. We’ve used a few things with varying levels of success at various times – she likes to keep us on our toes.
What’s worked for us:
- Fisher Price Snugapuppy Swing saved us during a few particularly fussy newborn weeks. She loves to take supervised naps in it, especially. It has numerous swinging motions, three sound options and a mobile.
- Graco Pack n Play was her favourite place for naps early on (and now where she screams while I get us ready to leave the house). Even though she’s not into it right now, it’s a super-safe place to place her and will become more useful as she grows and needs a play pen. We don’t, however, think this is the best option for a travel crib. It’s not the easiest to set up and dismantle!
- Baby Bjorn Bouncer gives us occasional peaceful mealtimes. We love how portable it is – it’s easy to bring from room to room. It also transitions to a toddler seat when the time comes. It’s also the least obtrusive baby item we own.
- SnuggleMe Organic is her favourite love-hate relationship, on loan from her friend Christopher. His mom said it was a lifesaver for keeping him in one safe place while she got ready. I’ve noticed Isabelle likes it best when I transfer her out of the baby carrier and into it – it must feel cozy! If you’re looking for a Dock-A-Tot in Canada, this is a good option.
I never saw myself as the baby-wearing type, but it’s one of the most effective ways to transport a newborn and to be handsfree. We have two types of carriers: a soft carrier for the house and a structured carrier for longer trips. Both carriers we have are functional from newborn to pretty much as long as you care to carry them, making them great investments.
The Baby K’Tan Baby Carrier is a soft, wrap-style carrier that you don’t have to wrap. It’s essentially two loops of fabric attached by a second loop. This carrier is incredibly comfortable for both parent + baby. The only downside is that this must be purchased according to size. If your household widely varies in size and all want to carry, it’s possible you might need two. This is the only way we can eat dinner most nights and it also makes for excellent baby naps throughout the day if she’s being fussy.
The Tula Baby Carrier is a structured carrier that works from 7lb – 45lb and will fit any adult member of your family who wishes to carry. I received this as a shower gift from my friend Wendy who knows absolutely everything about babies. Our first major trip out with this carrier was the CNE and Isabelle slept the entire time. It’s incredibly comfortable and also ergonomic – you can even purchase additional back support attachments if you choose. Plus, it comes in adorable prints (like the French Marigold she got me).
Even if you’re not planning to bottle feed, it’s a good idea to have some on hand. If I’ve learned anything from our feeding journey it’s that things can change quickly and you should always be prepared! Slow-flow bottles are what you’ll want on hand – they help to reduce gulping (and therefore gas) and are more similar to the flow baby would get from the breast. We love the Como Tomo Silicone Baby Bottle. The flow is sufficiently slow and they’re meant to mimic the breast – she easily goes between breast and bottle. Plus, they’re super cute.
Isabelle is finally at a place where she loves bath time. We’ve been using the Skip Hop Moby Bath since her first bath, with the included newborn sling. It’s easy to set on a counter if you have the space and seems very comfortable for baby. Make sure to get the Moby Rinser, too – it helps to keep water out of their eyes and is also perfect for adding warm water as the bath progresses to keep things cozy.
I don’t have a diaper bag recommendation for you because I didn’t buy one. Instead, I picked up a regular black leather backpack during the Kate Spade 75% off surprise sale and have been using that. If you go this route, you’ll probably want some organizer pouches for the inside (mine are from Winners) to help keep things separate. Plus, you’ll want a travel changing mat and pouch (see below!).
Travel Changing Mat & Pouch
I fell in love with this Lassig Changing Pouch because of how stylish it is. It’s luckily super-functional as well: it contains a changing mat, space for about 4-5 diapers, a wipes compartment and slots for extra items. I pack some non-petroleum jelly and doggy bags. This fits into most purses and backpacks, too. Use code SFUSCO10 for $10 off your $40 well.ca order!
Black & White Board Books
Tummy time is more fun for everyone when you add in some high-contrast black & white board books. These stand up on their own (necessary!) and give baby something to look at during tummy time. The high-contrast images fascinate babies. Hello, Baby Animals is my favourite (and Izzy’s!).
Wipeable Changing Pad
You will be doing more than enough laundry with a newborn, so do yourself a favour and splurge on a wipeable changing pad. Those fabric-covered pads might look cute, but talk to me once you’ve dealt with a diaper explosion or pee fountain. We love our Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad – it’s water-resistant, easy to clean, and anti-microbial.
Word to the wise: darker colours will look better for longer because of the aforementioned explosions. Our pad is a bit stained but it’s not bothersome or incredibly obvious.
Real talk: you don’t want to be fussing with your swaddling techniques in the middle of the night. We swear by our Halo Swaddle, an easy-to-use wearable blanket with swaddling wings. They secure with Velcro and have a two-way zipper that’s meant to help with nighttime diaper changes. I haven’t mastered that quite yet, but the swaddle itself helps to calm the Moro (startle) reflex that wakes baby. I registered for the 2-piece gift set with Halo Sleepsack Swaddle and Wearable Blanket and have since bought a few additional swaddles. If it works for you, get at least two – one will always be in the wash.
As fun as it is to dress babies up, most of their time – especially in the first few weeks – will be spent in footed sleepers. Babies tend to destroy a couple of outfits each day, so you’ll want to have lots available.
Our favourite sleepers are from Kissy Kissy – they wash incredibly well, are silky soft and have attached mitts. You can sometimes find them at Nordstrom Rack, so keep an eye out!
Those can be tough to find (and are a higher price point), so we also have a ton of sleepers from Carters, plus footed sleepers from H&M, Petit Lem (so soft!), and Nordstrom Baby.
Everyone will buy you onesies. Usually in packs of 3-5. But, for whatever reason, no one will buy you pants! I rotate between these stunning Canadian-made leggings by Little & Lively (she’s constantly in the cactus floral print) and H&M footed leggings (which come in a 3-pack).
If you decide to offer a pacifier, you will want a few options on hand. We have a couple of trendier options, but the one that Isabelle loves the most is the Philips Mini Avent 0-2 month pacifier. It’s smaller, so it won’t hit baby’s nose, and has an orthodontic nipple. Apparently 9/10 babies will accept it, so it’s worth a try!
You’ll receive a million swaddles, but it’s very unlikely you’ll actually use them for swaddling. Ours are constantly in use: on the floor for playtime, in the carseat for a bit of warmth or to protect guests’ clothing from baby vom. My favourite swaddle – and the softest one we own – is the Pehr Bunny Hop Swaddle. Lulujo swaddles are another super-soft option.
Newborns are messy eaters. Having adorable, drool-and-food-proof bibs on hand to protect their outfits (and use to mop up spit-up) is key. We received these Copper Pearl Bandana Bibs from my account team at Rogers (thanks, guys!) and they’re now our go-tos. They’re simple to tuck up under baby’s neck and wash up beautifully.
Camera + Photo Printer
This one is more of a want than a need, but one I stand fully behind. You will take a million photos of your baby. We’ve been doing our best to get them off our smartphones (and the cloud) and into frames. I’ve been leaving my Sony a5100 camera out in the living room to make sure I capture the moment with family & friends. I love the selfie screen for effortless family photos and, paired with my 30mm Sigma lens, the photos feel super professional.
A photo printer feels unnecessary until you have one. My dad gifted one to us when his friend, who also had a new granddaughter, swore it was his best purchase. Our Canon Selphy Photo Printer has meant we actually have printed photos of Isabelle. The images are really crisp and print directly from your smartphone. My dad has turned so many people onto this printer that we’ve been joking he needs a referral link.
- Amazon Prime – this has been the most clutch for all of our baby needs. Whether you are thisclose to running out of diapers and wipes or realize that you never purchased a baby gym, Amazon will save you. There’s always something you’re missing and, more often than not, Amazon has it. Plus, newborn time means lots of TV time and their shows are top notch.
If you’re looking for a gift for a friend with a newborn, an Amazon gift card is always so welcome. I had a couple new mom friends who sent some to us and they’ve been so appreciated for those last-minute purchases.
- Grocery Gateway – grocery delivery feels extravagant until you have a baby and realize your groceries will be at your door the next day. You can even set your perfectly picked produce and other essentials to auto-reorder. Want to try it? DM me your email and I’ll send you a $10 coupon!
- OxyClean MaxForce Spray – gets out even the most disgusting baby stains (and formula, too).
- Disposable Diaper Bags – a hot tip from my friend Claire, these contain diapers when you’re out and about and also help to separate the gross stuff in your wet bag.
- BabyTracker App – you will be asked, repeatedly, how your baby is eating, pooping and peeing. There’s no way you’ll remember. This intuitive app is super simple to use and allows you to filter by action (so you can see all sleep details at once, for example).
- Weather-appropriate clothes & accessories – If you have a summer baby, you’ll want to make sure you have a sun hat on hand. Fall & winter babies will want layering items like long-sleeve onesies and sweaters. I promise that when you do need these items last-minute, they’ll be impossible to find in-store!
Social Accounts to Follow:
- @takingcarababies for baby sleep tips
- @legendairymilk for breastfeeding tips
- @feeding.kids.intuitive.eating for nutrition tips and fostering healthy approaches to food.
- Your WonderWeeks group on Facebook (search “Wonder Weeks” plus your due date month + year ie. Wonder Weeks July 2019)
Things you don’t need:
- A massive diaper stash. A lot of sizes overlap and you’ll find baby will grow out of them very quickly.
- Large amounts of newborn clothing. Stick to the basics (a few days’ worth of sleepers) until you know how big your little one is. It’s a race against time to have them wear everything before they outgrow it!
- Unsolicited advice. Remember that you are the parent. Listen to your OB, your paediatrician and any safe advice you feel comfortable following. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about the decisions you are making for your child.
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading! I hope this was helpful if you’re getting ready for a new baby – or trying to buy something for a friend who is. This amount of “stuff” can be overwhelming. We tried to buy very little in the beginning because we didn’t want our house overrun with baby items and didn’t want to overspend. Go at your own pace!
Did I forget anything? Please let me know in the comments what your biggest must-have is for newborns!