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What do newborns actually need?

You might have seen lists all over the internet filled with these enormous lists of things that newborns need. Lots of the time, these are filled with very unnecessary things, or things that you can easily purchase after baby is born. As a mum of two and a baby business owner, I’m here to help you out and tell you what babies really need, without all the unnecessary items.

Here is a comprehensive list of the essentials you need for a newborn:

1) A car seat

This is one of the few real essentials. I have heard some hospitals won’t let new parents leave until they see a properly installed car seat. Newborns need a rear-facing car seat – the most economical way to do this is to purchase a seat for birth – four years. Some also choose to buy a capsule. Capsules can easily clip in and out of the car and onto a pram. This can come in handy but isn’t an essential item.

2) A pram

You’ll most likely be using a pram every day, it’s one of the most useful items you will find. Personally, I recommend buying a pram that can have a bassinet option as well as a pram seat. Many also have an option for adding a second seat later if they plan to have another baby. When pram shopping, make sure you get something that you are able to lift in and out of the car and is going to be practical for your lifestyle.

3) A baby carrier

A baby carrier was one of the most useful products I ever bought for my children. Babies who are worn in a carrier cry less than babies who are not. Babywearing is one of the best ways to calm a fussy baby and to carry your baby around with you wherever you go. If you have more than one child, a baby carrier is one of the best ways to take care of your newborn while having both hands free so you can tend to your older child.

4) A cot or safe sleeping place

Babies need somewhere safe to sleep that includes a firm, flat mattress. Options include a bassinet (although babies usually only stay in these for a short time), a cot, or a Montessori-style floor mattress. Some will also opt for co-sleeping, but somewhere safe to put baby for naps or when you are not in bed is also a necessity.

5) Nappies and wipes

Newborns use 8 – 12 nappies a day (thankfully this number slowly decreases), so you need a lot of nappies! I recommend eco-friendly nappies or reusable ones.

A barrier cream, such as this barrier balm or nappy change cream will be necessary for the baby to prevent and treat nappy rash. These products are also useful for other conditions like dribble rash, eczema, or broken skin. A baby-safe wash and lotion are also useful.

Newborns go through a lot of changes of clothes each day. When buying for a newborn, look for practical clothing items, such as zip growsuits for everyday wear. You only need a small number of “going out” outfits for babies as they outgrow these very fast. You will also need socks, singlets, and, depending on the season, you may also need jumpers, beanies, and warm clothing.

A simple muslin wrap is all you need for baby sleep. You can also buy swaddles and sleepsuits if you wish. These are great for winter or cold weather but are not always necessary. If you have a friend with some of these, ask to borrow some to see what works best for your baby.

This one is more for mum, but a nappy bag packed with nappies, wipes, baby clothing, and whatever else you will need while out with a baby is going to be very important every time you leave the house with the baby. Check out our blog post on what to pack in a nappy bag here.

If you are breastfeeding, you really don’t need much. There are just a few things that are necessary, and some others that are helpful for comfort. You will need some nursing bras, I recommend buying a few as they can get lots of milk on them. Some nursing pads and a nursing balm are also necessary, especially in the early days. Other handy items can include: hot and cold soothing gel packs, a silicone breast pump and milk saver, and a manual or electric breast pump (I definitely recommend an electric pump if you plan on expressing often! A manual pump is great for throwing in your handbag or nappy bag for whenever you need it. Check out our post on products to make your breastfeeding journey easier here.

11) Formula feeding gear

If you are formula feeding, you will need bottles, formula, a kettle, and a steriliser (microwave sterilisers are the most economical option). Some also like to buy bottle warmers, insulated flasks for carrying boiled water, and containers for single serves of formula. Coffee-machine-style bottle makers are also available too.

12) Some basic first aid and medical gear

Don’t worry, you don’t need too much here. A thermometer will be very handy for when the baby is unwell. Also, you will likely need some baby paracetamol for any time your little one is unwell. I never really used a nasal aspirator, but some people say these are necessary as well.

Things that are nice but not necessary:

13) A change table:

Some mums love having a change table, while others say they never used them! Personally, we used ours often and still do. It can save your back from having to bend over and change the baby, and it also is where babies can get used to being changed. If you don’t want to buy a change table, a simple change mat or clean rug are totally fine options as well.

14) A rocking chair:

I have seen gliders available for feeding babies, and think they seem so nice! I never had one, and just fed and comforted my babies in a regular seat. If I had married a millionaire, this definitely would have been on the list of baby items!

15) Baby monitor:

If the baby is going to be sleeping in another room from you, a baby monitor is a necessity. If your baby is sleeping in the room with you, you might not need one, or you might decide to wait and see if it is useful and worth the money after your baby is born.

16) Bouncer:

I loved my baby bouncer! While these aren’t necessarily an essential item, they are one that comes in very handy and can be great for putting your baby in while you cook, shower, do chores, or just when you want to sit and not have them on you. Some play music or vibrate, but anything that just allows your baby to sit and bounce a little will be really handy!

Newborns don't really have any need for toys. However, we know so many people like to buy toys for their babies, as keepsakes or for things they will grow and love as they get older. Baby rattles, teddies, and bunnies are all super cute, and something that are perfect for photos, and for babies to use as they get older.

So there you have it, here is my full list of what newborns actually need. You might find more items that are really useful for you and your baby, but these are the items that are essential and helpful for you when bringing home your newborn. If you’re looking for baby essentials or gifts, we have you covered here. Also, if you’re looking for information about what postpartum mums need, check out our postpartum blog post! Another favourite post is on practical ways to prepare for life with a newborn. Check it out here.

Author Bio:

Rachel Preston Broughton is the owner of Baby and Mumma Gifts and the mother of two beautiful children. Rachel is passionate about helping new mums and mums-to-be all throughout the motherhood journey.

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