BABY (AND MOM) ESSENTIALS:
FROM PREGNANCY TO 3 MONTHS OLD
With product recommendations that are baby safety-approved (Updated 2020)
In our baby and mom essential article, we cover:
And everything else you may not have considered. Let's get started!
Shopping for a newborn can be pressurizing, especially when it’s your first baby. Advertisers and sales assistants are masters at using the “if you don’t buy this, you’re a terrible parent” sales pitch.
Keep in mind that babies are simple little creatures. Their needs are fairly straightforward in the first few months.
They need nourishment, warmth, love and safety. The rest is great to have and makes life easier but isn’t essential.
We’ve put together a list of “baby essentials” and "nice to have" for the modern baby and mom. We hope this will help you as you prepare for the arrival of your little one.
Too much to keep track of? We got you! We made a printable PDF that you can take with you when out shopping.
Baby Tip: Amazon Baby Registry
Before you start shopping, signing up for a free baby registry at Amazon is a great way to keep track of your baby essential shopping list.
You can easily add, remove and browse for the best baby products all in one convenient place while enjoying free perks and discounts.
You can even share your list with your family and friends for easy baby shower gifting!
Create a free baby registry here.
Before You Buy
There are so many teensy-tiny items of baby gear to pick from that it’s easy to grab a real or virtual shopping cart and start filling it. Pause first and consider your newborn’s real needs as well as your budget.
Believe it or not, there are still a few baby products around with known safety issues. People continue to buy them despite warnings not to. If you want to find out about more products you absolutely shouldn’t buy, the website Kids in Danger is full of useful information.
Maternity Essentials for Mom
Nice to have
Clothing for Mom
It’s really useful to have a couple of pairs of comfortable maternity jeans, dungarees or long pants, depending on your style.
You’ll find that they go with a multitude of tops and can be dressed up or down for different occasions. If you’re someone who lives in her jeans, you’ll find that still being able to wear a pair will make you feel more “normal”.
Pick a pair with a comfortable waistband. Some have a bellyband to fit over your tummy, while others fit under the bump.
Your shape will constantly change and expand when you’re pregnant, but a good pair of proper maternity jeans should see you through most of your pregnancy and even the months afterwards while you’re getting your shape back.
Make sure that you have a selection of tops or jumpers to wear over them that are long enough to cover the elastic panels.
Even if you’ve had a Cesarean section, you can expect fairly heavy bleeding for up to five days after birth.
After that, the flow will become lighter, but you may have a discharge for up to six weeks.
For this reason, stock your cupboard with a good supply of maxi pads. Tampons are not suitable at this time.
Mothers new to breastfeeding often have trouble with sore or cracked nipples.
Feeding and expressing with the breast pump can cause nipples to become dry and painful.
It’s worth it to keep a tube of nipple cream in the cupboard just in case. There are several kinds, and little research has been done on what type is best, so it’s down to personal preference.
Choose from coconut oil, olive oil or lanolin based creams.
Support Belt/ Band
Pregnancy belly bands provide support for the lower back and abdomen.
They’re especially helpful for active women in their second and third trimesters. They reduce joint pain in the lower back and abdominal area.
Women who jog find them especially helpful. Running without a belly band is like running without a sports bra- no support.
It’s very important that the band is not too tight, though, or it can interfere with circulation as well as cause heartburn. Another advantage of belly bands is that their gentle pressure reminds you to have good posture.
If you’re going to use a belly band, you must know that like any support for the body, it can cause the underlying muscles to become weak if used for too long.
Never wear one for more than two hours a day and make sure you do safe abdominal exercises before and after your pregnancy to enhance core strength.
Stretch Mark Cream
While there’s little scientific evidence that stretch mark creams work, many women like to use them while pregnant.
If you intend to use one, begin in your second trimester. Choose a cream especially formulated for pregnancy that contains centella and/or hyaluronic acid as a few studies have shown that these ingredients may be beneficial. Massage a little in for about fifteen minutes a day.
Between keeping yourself as healthy as possible, planning for Baby and booking the hospital, pregnancy comes with a super-long to-do list.
Make your life easier by getting yourself a pregnancy planner. This will help you remember all the essentials you need to buy and do through every stage of the next nine months.
Besides, ticking off the lists gives a mom-to-be a very satisfying feeling.
What to Pack for the Hospital
Nice to have
Are you organized for B-Day?
Babies seldom arrive on the exact day that they’re expected, and some, as you know, arrive early. It pays to have your hospital bags packed and ready, certainly from your eighth month onwards.
We recommend having two bags for Mom, and one for Baby.
For Mom, one should contain everything you’ll need for labor and delivery, and the other for after the birth. Once everything has been packed, put the bags into the car trunk or leave them by the front door.
- Mom PRE
- Mom post
Check what your hospital policy is on what baby can wear while there and what they provide.
An Essential List of Baby Clothes
Nice to have
Clothing for Baby
Babies grow really fast, so don’t buy too many items of clothing all the same size. That first “newborn” size fits most babies for literally only a couple of weeks.
Newborns don’t need an extensive wardrobe and the focus is on practicality in the early months.
Your newborn will get through a surprising number of outfits each day, possibly up to four, due to spitting up and nappy accidents.
This means that the amount of clothing you need will depend on whether you intend to do laundry every day or not.
Call them onesies, bodysuits or babygros, you’ll need about 6 of these in the first size. Baby will outgrow these quickly so don’t buy too many. They’re also something that people tend to give you as gifts.
These keep baby comfortable and snug, and they have snap closures in the nappy area to make diaper changing easy.
They also seem to make it easier to hold a floppy newborn because you don’t have to cope with holding different pieces of clothing in place when you pick baby up.
While onesies are amazing, it’s also good to have about 4 separate sets of T-shirts and leggings for when the umbilical cord stump is still in place.
The separate pieces don’t compress the cord, make it easier to clean and allow air to keep it dry. That said, it won’t do baby any harm to wear a onesie with the cord in place.
You’ll need 4-6 pairs of booties or socks, especially if you’re having a winter baby. We find socks more practical, simply because they don’t fall off as easily as booties do.
Mittens aren’t strictly a necessity for newborns but the choice is yours. Many newborns’ hands are cool to the touch and slightly bluish in color but this is nothing to worry about.
Mittens can stop baby from scratching his face or your breast with his sharp little nails, so a couple of pairs of mittens might come in handy.
Extras for a cold climate include a couple of knitted sweaters, caps, and mittens.
Babies have a large head surface area and lose heat from here quickly, so covering baby’s head when it’s cold will go a long way to keeping baby warm.
If you’re having a winter baby or live in a cold climate, you’ll need a couple of warm hoodies or knitted jerseys too.
Baby Essentials for Bed Time
Nice to have
Crib or Bassinet
Cribs are more economical than bassinets because baby will be able to use a crib for a lot longer. While bassinets are smaller and more portable, they will only be useful for the first 5 months or so, after which time you will need to get a crib anyway.
However, some babies and moms prefer the closeness and practicality of having the bassinet right next to the bed.
If you opt for a crib, ensure it has a firm mattress. This is very important because sleeping on a soft mattress raises the incidence of SIDS in babies. Press your hand into the middle of the mattress then release it. If it leaves a hand mark, it’s too soft and you should not buy it.
If it’s not lined already, get a couple of mattress protectors to keep it clean. Put a well-fitted sheet over it. There’s no need for a top sheet. Four fitted sheets will probably be enough.
Be careful when you buy crib bumpers to protect babies head and limps. You want to make sure that it's breathable since there has been some cases of SIDS because of unsafe bumpers.
In terms of new or second hand, vintage cribs may be romantic, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns against cribs over ten years old.
It’s important that cribs have fixed sides, in fact cribs with drop down sides are no longer available for purchase in the U.S. The slats must be close together- just over two inches (5 cm) apart.
Safety approved cribs carry the seal of the Juvenile Products Manufacturing Association (JPMA) which is a sign of safety and quality.
Models that transform from a crib to a toddler bed are worth looking at because you’ll be able to use them for several years.
Swaddling/ Receiving Blankets
Most newborns like to be firmly wrapped in a swaddling blanket for the first few weeks. Swaddling blankets are lightweight flannel squares especially designed for this purpose.
They measure around 47 inches by 47 inches (120cm). Receiving blankets are smaller and won’t last beyond the first month or two, so we recommend just getting the larger receiving blankets.
People will probably give you a few as gifts, so don’t buy too many- six is probably enough. They’re useful for laying baby down on, for instance on the sofa or the floor to provide a clean surface.
A nightlight in the baby’s bedroom is a useful addition. You’re going to be getting up to see to baby a lot at night, and you’ll need to see what you’re doing.
A low wattage light won’t disturb baby’s sleep but will provide enough light for feeding or changing him.
Must-Have for Baby On the Go
Nice to have
Most hospitals won’t discharge you without a car seat, so this is an essential item.
They not only keep baby safe in the vehicle but also provide a cozy corner for a nap. Purchase it a couple of months before baby is due to give you time to have it fitted in the vehicle and to figure out how it works.
The seats that double up as a baby carrier with a handle are the best. This means that if baby falls asleep in the car, you can unstrap the seat and carry the whole thing inside without disturbing baby’s sleep.
This type also fits neatly into a shopping trolley, making shopping with baby easier in the early months.
Convertible car seats are becoming more popular, but it has its drawbacks. Although they will hold baby from birth to at least two or three years old, they are bulky and difficult to get in and out of the car.
Most convertible seats do not have wheeled frames and you’ll have to transfer baby into a stroller anyway.
Infant seats are more user-friendly because they’re easy to clip in and out of the base in the car. They can also be used with a seat belt for those times that you travel in a friend’s car or take a cab.
Try to get one with a comfortable handle and a good size sunshade. Used car seats are something to avoid, because they may have been in an accident or damaged in some other way.
Be aware of the 2-hour rule that says that you should not let baby be in a car seat for longer than 2 hours, within a 24 hour time period, unless the seat can recline all the way back.
Until baby can sit upright, he’ll need a stroller that he can lie flat in. Look for ones that can be raised to a seated position later, or else the kind that the car seat can fit into.
Strollers are great for pushing around the neighborhood or walking around the mall. This is not something to buy online because it’s best to test drive it for comfort. Check if:
Or should we say, a BIG bag! There are many really cute baby bags available but remember, you’re going to be carrying it.
For this reason, we recommend getting one in stylish denim or neutral colors that will go with your clothing, not with the nursery décor.
Remember that Dad is probably going to be carrying it some of the time too.
You’ll need the bag for whenever you go out with baby. It’s going to have to fit all the essentials like nappies, wipes, a change of clothes, bottles, and more.
Bags with a foldout changing mat are useful, as are lots of pockets.
If you travel a lot or if baby is going to sleep at Grandma’s house often, you may want to consider getting a travel crib.
For travelers, many hotels have them, but cleanliness and safety might be an issue. The right travel crib should fold together easily but lock firmly when open. It should not be too heavy either.
Otherwise known as a baby sling, a baby carrier is a device made of cloth used to carry a small baby against the parent’s body.
They’re great because they allow baby to be snuggled right up against you where he wants to be, but they leave your hands free to do other tasks.
Carrying baby close like this boosts the natural bonding process and helps soothe a fussy baby when nothing else will.
Strollers are great but they can be cumbersome to cart around on public transport and up stairs.
Using a baby carrier means that you can take baby safely along with you yet still be able to carry a bag or push a shopping cart.
When choosing a baby carrier, look for one that supports baby in a fetal position. Try the carrier on in the store to make sure it is comfortable and fits your body’s proportions.
Look for a sling that can be clipped on quickly and easily, and that you can put on yourself without needing someone to help.
Baby carriers are safe provided that you observe some simple precautions. Carry baby upright, not horizontally, unless feeding.
Check the carrier for broken stitching or clips or worn fabric. Don’t use a baby carrier as a car seat substitute.
Basically, don’t use a carrier in any situation where it would not be safe to carry a baby in your arms.
Sun Blinds for Your Vehicle
It’s advisable to keep your baby out of the direct sun for the first six months of life.
Their delicate skin is very susceptible to sunburn at this age. Car windows let in the light and harmful UV rays. To keep your baby cool and protected, it’s a good idea to get some window shades for your car.
A sun blind will also keep baby comfortably cool in the car. A soft baby seat can often be quite hot already, and if the sun shines through, baby can get very uncomfortable very quickly.
There are various types and different sizes to fit all kinds of vehicle, so make sure you get the correct one for your car.
Child View Mirror
Here’s another handy gadget for babies on-the-go. These mirrors allow parents to see front- or back-facing children and allows the child to see the parents too.
These mirrors allow for a wide-angle view of the back-seat area. Most brands attach to the existing rear-view mirror or visor with clips or suction cups, while others fit onto the front or back window.
Essentials for Feeding Time
Nice to have
Food for Baby
We’re passionate about the benefits of breastfeeding and will never lose an opportunity to market it!
If you intend to breastfeed, your needs will be fewer and your expenses less. A breast pump is essential if you’re going back to work or even if you want to leave baby with a sitter for an hour or two.
You’ll also need a couple of bottles, a bottle brush, and a sterilizer (the dishwasher is also safe for most bottles).
If you’re going to work, invest in a better-quality electric breast pump as you’ll be doing a lot of expressing.
However, if you’re going to be at home with baby, a cheaper hand pump will be a bit more work but will do the job. Here’s an excellent article on how to use a breast pump.
Mom will need a packet of breast pads to catch any leakage in the early weeks. This stops once the milk supply has settled.
You’ll also need to buy a couple of feeding bras as your size will change while you’re feeding. Front-fastening bras also make it easy to feed baby anytime, anywhere, without having to get undressed.
The best time to buy these is in your second trimester but bear in mind that your size may increase a little more after baby is born.
Most women need one band size bigger (e.g. instead of a 34 inch, get a 36 inch) and up to 3 cup sizes bigger.
You may want to get a couple of structured, underwired feeding bras for when you go out, and two or three more comfortable unstructured bras for when you’re at home.
We recognize that not everyone can or wants to breastfeed, so if this is the case you’ll need to buy some formula milk too.
Don’t buy more than one tin, because that brand may not suit baby and you’ll have to throw it away.
Ask your pediatrician or midwife for advice on a good starter formula. You’ll need about six bottles too, along with the sterilizer and bottle brush mentioned above.
Vitamin D Drops
It’s not usually necessary to give the average healthy breastfed baby supplements for the first year of life.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine vitamin D supplements to make up for a lack of sun exposure that can cause rickets.
Most babies are kept out of the sun for the first months of their lives. They’re often wrapped up and covered and are usually indoors most of the time. For this reason, it’s recommended that you supplement.
If your baby is breastfed, it should receive 400IU of vitamin D per day. Never give more than this and always use the dropper provided with the drops (important!).
If baby is having 1 liter or more a day of formula milk, he doesn’t need supplements as the formula milk is already fortified with vitamin D. Use the drops until baby is 2 years old.
It’s easy to give baby the vitamins because you literally just need a few small drops. This can be put onto your clean finger for baby to suck or put onto the breast right where baby latches on.
Alternately you can drop it straight into baby’s mouth but be careful not to contaminate the dropper. If you do, wash and sterilize it along with baby’s bottles and pacifier.
If baby is having stomach issues it might be worth it to avoid vitamin D drops with coconut oil.
Newborns spit up. A lot! If you don’t want the shoulders of all your tops to be stained, then invest in a dozen burp cloths.
They’re probably going to be your daily accessory for the next couple of months! Toweling nappies or facecloths work well here. Hand one to anybody who picks baby up too!
Most babies prefer their milk warm. You shouldn’t heat baby bottles in the microwave because it creates hot spots in the milk that can burn baby’s mouth. Not to mention that precious nutrients get nuked.
Of course, you can always warm a bottle in a jug of hot water, but this is a bit of a hit and miss affair and it’s not always easy to get the temperature right.
Bottle warmers are useful because they warm up a chilled bottle quickly and evenly. Look for ones that turn off automatically at the right temperature and that alert you. Some don’t fit extra wide bottles so check this too.
This little gadget can make your life a whole lot more comfortable even before baby is born. Use it to support your back in the last trimester of your pregnancy.
Once baby arrives, it’s great to make breast and bottle-feeding a whole lot more comfortable.
It raises baby up to a comfortable level so that you aren’t leaning forward and straining your back when you feed him.
Nipple Shields for Feeding Time
Nipple shields are protective covers for the nipples that are usually made with silicone.
They can be helpful for some feeding problems, but they do need to be used cautiously as they can cause more problems if not used correctly. We advise getting help from a lactation professional if you decide to use them.
Some women are advised to use them if they have flat or inverted nipples or if baby is having difficulties with latching. If you are advised to use them, be sure to get ones made of very thin, see-through silicone.
You will still need to ensure that your little one latches properly onto the entire areola area and not just to the end of the shield. If you don’t wear the shield correctly and baby doesn’t get enough milk, it can lead to a hungry baby, loss of milk supply and mastitis.
Baby Essentials for Bath & Change
Nice to have
Baby Tip: Amazon Family Account
A growing family means a growing demand on your wallet! When you sign up for an Amazon Family account, you can ease the growing pains and save big – up to 20% – on diaper subscriptions, baby food and more.
Not to mention free 2-day shipping and access to exclusive benefits on your Amazon Baby Registry.
A plastic baby bath is useful for the early months before baby can sit up. While you can bath baby in the normal bath, your back will get very sore from bending over that low.
You’ll need two soft baby towels for bath time as well.
Toiletries and Grooming Tools
Babies’ skin is delicate, so they need special care. The main products you’ll need are some type of body and hair wash and a lotion. Special lotions for the nappy area are useful to have in case of redness. If you’re using disposable diapers, don’t use petroleum-based products as they clog up the diaper. List of good soap options.
You’ll also need a pair of nail clippers or scissors specially made for cutting tiny nails. If babies’ nails are left too long, they tend to scratch their faces.
Most people opt for disposable nappies and despite their expense and the environmental concerns they are SO convenient.
Newborns especially tend to mess in their diapers many times a day, so you’ll need to stock up on quite a few packets of nappies.
The first newborn sized ones are very small, and some babies over 4 kg are already too big for them at birth. For this reason, just buy a few packets in this size. Using the right size prevents leakage and unpleasant “accidents”.
As a guide, most newborns use about 12 diapers a day. A rule of thumb is to always have a stock of 2 packets on hand.
If you opt for cloth diapers, as many do for environmental reasons, you’ll need at least 2 dozen, but this obviously depends on how often you’re going to do laundry.
You will need to get several pairs of plastic pants to cover the toweling nappies to prevent leakage. A minimum of eight is recommended.
You’ll also need a bucket with a lid to keep the soiled diapers in, and a supply of sterilizing nappy powder or wash to put in the bucket.
Speaking of laundry, remember to buy a bottle of baby-friendly laundry detergent. For the first little while it’s good to wash baby’s laundry separately from the rest of the household’s.
Hand in hand with diapers go baby wipes. Keep a big pack handy at your changing station, and a travel pack in your baby bag.
We’d advise choosing the fragrance-free varieties to prevent irritation and allergies. Remember that in the early days it’s perfectly acceptable to “top and tail” baby with some wipes instead of bathing him every day.
You’ll need a tube or two of zinc oxide cream for diaper rash. Keep a tube handy at the changing station and another in your baby bag.
Other Baby Essentials
Nice to have
Having a good thermometer is very important. There are so many different types on the market that choosing one can be overwhelming.
Rectal ones give the most accurate reading and are recommended but older children object to them so they can only be used for a limited time.
Digital ones that work inside the ear or against the forehead are the second best options in that case.
While some parents choose not to give their baby a pacifier, for many it is an absolute essential. Babies don’t only suck for nourishment but also for comfort.
A pacifier helps to soothe a fussy baby when he’s not hungry. It can help your baby to fall back to sleep without your having to pick him up. Studies have shown that sucking on a pacifier at sleep time may reduce the risk of SIDS.
Of course, using a pacifier has cons too. Some babies become dependent on them and have to be weaned off them later on.
Using a pacifier for too long can lead to dental issues, although normal use in the first year or so doesn’t cause any dental problems.
If you decide to get a pacifier for baby, pick the silicone, one-piece brands. Those made in two sections can break apart and pose a choking hazard.
You’ll need at least two so that you always have a replacement to hand. It’s important to keep them very clean. Sterilize them or run them through the dishwasher cycle for the first six months.
After that they can just be washed as normal. Be careful never to sweeten the pacifier by dipping it in honey or sugary liquids as this will certainly lead to dental problems later on.
Baby Gift for Sibling
If you have older children, having a new baby in the house will be a big adjustment for them. It’s a good idea to get a special new toy or treat for them “from the baby”.
Baby will be getting loads of gifts and attention and this will help the older children to not feel left out.
Try to stock your freezer with some ready cooked meals because there are going to be many days in the early weeks where you either don’t feel like cooking or won’t have time to do so.
Healthy snacks like dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, crackers and energy bars will be useful for keeping you nourished while baby feeds.
Whether you’re breast or bottle feeding, you’re going to spend a lot of time doing it. While it’s not necessary to go out and buy a new chair, you’ll need a comfy chair to sit in while you feed baby.
Make it a pleasant place to sit, keep a jug of water, or a thermos with a warm beverage inside and a cozy blanket on hand. These items will make it a pleasant place to enjoy time with your little one.
While we cannot say that a baby monitor is an essential piece of equipment, many parents choose not to be without one.
Monitors give you peace of mind that baby is okay while you’re relaxing or busy in another room.
Baby swings can soothe a fussy baby and rock him to sleep. These are great for when you feel like you’ve been holding baby all day and just need somewhere to put him down.
Standard swings consist of a padded seat hanging from a frame or standing on the floor. More expensive brands have lights, music and toys. There are travel swings available too that are more portable.
One of the things to check for is sturdiness. The frame should not be flimsy and should attach securely to the chair. Also, check for sharp edges or any places where baby’s fingers could get stuck.
For newborns, the seat needs to recline all the way back because they cannot support their heads yet.
Test the chair in the shop and ensure that the motor runs quietly so that it won’t disturb you or baby. The models that plug into the wall are more economical, otherwise you may end up buying loads of batteries.
Play Mat/ Baby Gym
Babies learn and grow at a rapid pace during the first year of life. A practical, fun, educational toy investment during this first year is a play mat or activity mat.
Play mats consist of a soft, padded brightly colored mat for baby to lie or sit on. Extra toys hang from overhead to encourage baby to reach, focus and sit up to get them.
These mats engage all baby’s senses by providing a multitude of sights, noises and textures.