Pregnant with your first baby? First of all, congratulations! This is such an exciting time of life for all involved, but can also be confusing when it comes to figuring out exactly what you need to buy.
No doubt you’ve spent time researching newborn must haves and perhaps you’ve even bought a few (or a lot of!) pieces, but with all the different information out there, not to mention well-meaning advice from relatives, it can get overwhelming to separate what’s really essential from the nice-to-haves.
Our comprehensive newborn essentials checklist has been written transparently by mums who have been there already. We know first hand what’s truly essential and what’s nice to have if you can, though not strictly necessary.
Gimmicky baby goods that aren’t worth the time or hassle? They won’t be listed here, so you can be confident the following items are all worth investing in for reasons of safety, practicality or just to make your life easier.
Written to accomodate for baby’s newborn days up to three months of age, we’ve separated our list by category for easy comprehension and to help you get started one step at a time.
Pro tip: bookmark this webpage so you can come back later as you progress with your baby’s essentials shopping.
Nursery - must haves
First on the nursery checklist is the cot - no nursery is complete without one. A cot provides a safe place for your baby to sleep and nap and are available in many different styles to suit your nursery.
Whichever cot you choose, make sure it complies with current Australian standards for safety, and for this reason we recommend purchasing one new rather than second hand, as the safety standards are updated regularly.
If your cot doesn’t already come with one, which many don’t, you will also need to purchase a quality cot mattress. A good cot mattress should be firm and fit the cot properly with no large gaps between the mattress and cot rails.
You’ll need two or three fitted sheets and a waterproof mattress protector for nighttime accidents. Pillows, bumpers and loose blankets, although adorable, should not be used inside a baby’s cot for safety reasons.
This gorgeous fitted sheet set from Little Archer and Co is soft and stretchy and guaranteed to fit any sized cot mattress and this waterproof mattress protector from Bubba Blue, constructed with bamboo for breathability and a silky smooth feel, is machine washable and air dries quickly, ready for its next use.
For safe sleep, loose blankets should never be used in a baby’s cot. Instead, swaddle like a pro or pop bub in a baby sleeping bag for a warm and sound night’s sleep.
Nursery - nice to haves
While many will consider this a must-have item, baby will quickly outgrow a bassinet and although smaller, cosier and frankly cuter than a cot, there’s no reason why you can’t skip the bassinet altogether.
Purpose built, change tables give you a dedicated place to change and dress baby, and should be at a height comfortable for you. Although, if you’re short on room, there’s no problem with changing baby on the floor or bed with a towel or muslin underneath to catch any accidents.
A nightlight is ideal for creating a low light for night time feeds, changes, or just for checking in without disturbing your sleeping baby. Some other nursery products, such as baby monitors, often come with a simple nightlight built in.
If you live in a small apartment or house, or baby is sleeping right next to you, then a baby monitor might not be necessary. However, if you live in a larger, multi storied house or you want to be able to check in on baby remotely, then it’s a very useful tool to have.
Feeding - must haves
Even if you plan on breastfeeding, it’s a good idea to have a few bottles handy so someone else can feed your baby if you’re away.
There are plenty of options to choose from and you can read our article on the best baby bottles to learn more. As an all in one solution, this starter kit from Tommee Tippee is perfect for new mums with two sizes of wide neck bottles, signature anti-colic newborn teats and a transition cup for when baby moves on to independent drinking.
Essential for breastfeeding mothers who wish to express milk for baby for when they aren’t around. The best breast pump for you will largely depend on the frequency you express, with manual, electric, single and double breast pumps available.
You’ll need somewhere to store all your expressed milk. Breastmilk bags are the answer, you can label them, keep them in the fridge/freezer and use them as you go, it’s the safest way to manage this delicate aspect of being a new mum.
Medela Breastmilk Storage bags are perfect for the job, coming presealed for hygiene with a double zipper seal to prevent leaking. They can be stored upright in the fridge or flat in the freezer, with a large area for writing on the date and amount.
Breastfeeding mums will need a few good nursing bras for support and easy access to your breasts. Look for bras made of soft, stretchy and breathable fabrics without underwires that can dig in.
If you plan to formula feed your baby, have a little ready to go and packed in your hospital bag. Because not all babies will agree with all formulas, best not to stockpile any particular kind in case your baby refuses it or is intolerant to an ingredient. One tin to begin with will suffice, or even better, look for sample packs.
Whether breast or formula fed, the newborn days will be marked with a lot of spit up and milk vomit, that’s for sure, so you’ll be needing an ample supply of burp cloths to soak it all up and avoid staining your clothes and upholstery.
Feeding - nice to haves
Breastfeeding mamas will spend a lot of time with baby at the breast, especially in the newborn days when baby is still learning to latch and may feed up to twelve times a day. Breastfeeding pillows are specially designed and shaped to provide the best support to baby as well as comfort to you to make the most of this special relationship.
You should sterilise all bottles and feeding equipment before use for newborns and very young babies under six months, and with so many bottles in a day, a dedicated bottle steriliser certainly makes the job simpler.
Middle-of-the-night feedings can get very tedious, even more so if you’re waiting around warming milk in a bowl of hot water with a hungry, crying baby in your arms. Let this hassle go with an electric bottle warmer which will warm a bottle perfectly in minutes.
Travel - must haves
Absolutely non negotiable if you have a vehicle and plan on travelling by car. Capsules are suited to newborns and click in and out of your car for easy transfers. They are also compatible with many prams so you don’t need to wake your sleeping baby, and many mums find this convenience essential. You will need to upgrade after about six months through, and convertible car seats will last you from birth to four years so is the better choice if you want to make as few purchases as possible and value longevity in a product.
Surely at the top of any baby must-have list, a pram or stroller for walks, shopping and adventuring is vital for safe and convenient transport by foot. With so many options available, it’s a good idea to think about what features are most important to you, whether it be all terrain wheels, ample storage space or for growing families, the ability to convert to a double pram.
Hold baby close to you hands free so you can get on with other daily tasks while baby cuddles, naps and enjoys close bonding time. They’re also useful for quick trips when you don’t want to, or it’s inappropriate to, bring the pram, such as bushwalks.
Travel - nice to haves
Purpose built and ultra handy, nappy bags are constructed of easy clean fabrics, have lots of pockets and compartments to keep organised and usually come with useful accessories like change mats and insulated bottle holders.
Attaching to your pram’s handlebars, a pram caddy holds all your small, essential items like keys, phone and wallet, and keeps them close at hand.
Babies are messy, and a pram liner protects the seat of your pram from spit ups, vomit and, later, food mess, keeping your pram in tip top condition for longer and maximising its resell value.
Keep the sun and heat off baby when travelling in the car with a protective window shade. We prefer the pull down mesh variety (fits over the door frame like a sock), over shades that attach with suction caps due to the risk of them coming unstuck and potentially injuring baby. The other benefit of the pull down variety is that they allow you to open the window when in use.
Changing - must haves
Whether you’re going cloth or disposable, be sure to have plenty on hand as you won’t believe the amount you’ll go through!
You can really never have too many of these and you really don’t want to discover you’ve run out when you’ve a dirty nappy in one hand and wriggling baby in the other. You’ll also use baby wipes to give baby’s face and hands a quick wipe down, as well as anything else that gets a bit grubby throughout the day, including yourself. How did you ever live without them!
Nappy rash cream
Most, if not all babies will at some point experience the unfortunate nappy rash, caused by prolonged wetness, moisture or bacteria from poo against the skin. Luckily, regular use of a good nappy rash cream will keep it at bay.
Changing - nice to haves
Great for containing nasty odours, a nappy bin can make your life easier especially if the idea of poo everywhere makes you a little squeamish.
Keep all your changing equipment together in a nappy caddy. It’s convenient, mess-free and it doesn’t cost much to buy one.
Change mat and liners
There will be days where you’ll be dealing with massive, messy blowouts and others where you’ll be dealing with baby doing his business after you’ve taken off the old nappy - but before you put a new one on. To save soiling the surface underneath, portable change mats and/or mat liners really do the trick. With a waterproof backing, you can be sure nothing will soak through and you simply pop them in the wash after use. Even if you have a change mat with cover, using a liner will drastically cut down on the frequency you need to wash it.
Health and hygiene - must haves
First aid/medical kit
This should include a baby thermometer, baby Panadol for fevers and a list of emergency contacts, your doctor, and any medication. Keep your medical kit in a clearly marked bag or container and make sure all household members and babysitters are aware of its whereabouts.
Towels and washcloths
One or two towels for drying after bathtime is ideal. Hooded towels are best to keep baby well wrapped, snug and warm. For gently washing baby’s delicate skin, look for wash cloths made of super soft, natural materials.
For when baby gets his first (inevitable) cold or runny noise, a nasal aspriator gently sucks the mucous out of his nose to help him breathe easier. Sounds yucky but baby won’t be able to clear or blow his own nose until he’s much older.
Health and hygiene - nice to haves
Baby bath tub
There are plenty of awesome baby baths available with great features, but you can just as easily get away with bathing bub in the kitchen or laundry sink, or in a flexi-tub or large bucket.
Plain water is best for washing a newborn’s ultra delicate skin to prevent irritation, but a small amount of gentle wash will have baby smelling sweet and help shift any stubborn dirt or grease.
Clothing - must haves
Here we list the essential clothing items for a newborn baby as well as suggested quantities of each item. Dressing your baby in the first few months of life is all about ease, comfort and practicality and whilst adorable, neither you or baby will want to deal with fiddly buttons or bows when you’re up to the third change that day.
Your baby will probably spend most of their early weeks and months in onesies, as they’re perfect for playing and sleeping and easy for Mum or Dad to change. Depending on how often you plan to wash, allow one per day plus a few extras for those spit ups and poo explosions.
Ideal for layering in cooler weather and on their own in hot weather, allow for one to two per day.
Long sleeved in winter or short sleeved in summer, bodysuits are like t-shirts for babies with snaps underneath to keep them in place, and it’s good to have about five on hand. They can be worn on their own or layered for a complete outfit.
Soft pants or leggings with a stretchy waist to wear over the top of bodysuits, providing extra warmth and protection. Around three pairs will do.
Socks are notorious for falling off tiny feet and subsequently getting lost, so save yourself the hassle of endlessly sorting through odd socks and buy socks that are identical.
Getting baby used to wearing a sunhat early on makes life easier for you later, plus it’s never too early to be sun safe! Look for sunhats with wide brims that cover the face, ears and back of neck for maximum protection. A chin strap is also a good idea to keep the hat on when the breeze picks up.
Winter babies will need one or two soft beanies made of breathable and non irritating materials to keep their tiny heads warm. This newborn beanie from KOMOREBI is ideal, made of 100% organic cotton and featuring an adjustable knot for the perfect fit.
For those chilly days. Jumpers should have a super stretchy neckline to slip over baby’s head easily, or try a cosy cardi that opens at the front for easy access. Summer babies may only need one in case of chilly days, if any at all, while for winter babies, two or three is a sensible amount.
Protect baby’s clothes from all that dribble and spit up so you’re not changing complete outfits countless times a day. Bandana bibs not only look cool, but won’t flip up in baby’s face every time he raises his arms.
Toys - nice to haves
Newborn babies don’t strictly need any toys - a loving and responsive parent is all they need at this stage for the best start to life, both physically and emotionally. The following items are toys that are fun, useful and stimulate the senses for babies in the first few months of life.
It’s never too early to start reading to baby for the development of critical social, language and thinking skills. For newborns, try soft cloth books with surprising textures and sounds in high contrast colours. A set of cloth books ticks all the boxes with their crinkly pages and tear resistant, chew friendly materials.
Some babies are early bloomers with teething beginning in the first three months of life. Be prepared with a teether for your baby to chew on, designed to ease pressure and sore gums.
A good play mat will last you and your baby throughout the toddler years. For a newborn they’re perfect for tummy time, providing a soft, clean and spill proof surface for your baby to play on safely and hygienically.
To develop baby’s sensory skills, an interactive play gym is both fun, educational, and great exercise for tiny babies! Essentially a padded play mat under an arch of hanging toys, very young babies enjoy exploring, staring and batting at the stimulating toys, improving hand eye coordination.
To stimulate aural, visual and tactile senses, a baby rattle is an absolute classic. Wooden rattles are what we would go for, they have brightly coloured rings to stand out, and make a pleasant rattling noise that will delight baby and not annoy you.
Not all babies take to them, but a baby swing or bouncer can serve as a convenient place for baby to sit while you take a quick break to use the bathroom or make yourself a cuppa. Go all out with a premium model, featuring multiple swing speeds and multiple melodies to soothe baby, or you can go for a lightweight model that uses momentum to keep the movement going. It’s important to remember that your baby should always be supervised and never be left to sleep in his swing or bouncer, as the semi-reclined seating positon can potentially reduce or even block baby’s airway.