Photo credit: @monicaandandy
New baby on the way? Let us guess…you’re excited, a little bit terrified, wanting everything to be just right? Makes perfect sense, whether you’re getting ready to welcome your first child or your fourth! And while we have full faith that you can do this, mamas and dads, we also wanted you to have some company and confidence boosting. This checklist covers the basics, from baby gear and the nursery to taking care of yourself and Baby’s big brother or sister. So read on for essentials—stuff, apps, pro tips and ideas—that’ll have you and your growing family off to the best possible start.
Babies require less than you might think, so don’t fret about stocking up on all the things. Start off simple with a few must-haves, then add on as you learn more about your and your baby’s needs and likes. The starter kit:
- Diapers. Whether you’re going with cloth or disposable diapers, plan on your newborn needing 10 to 12 diapers a day, then down to 8 to 10 a day after the first month. Include a mix of Newborn and Size 1 diapers.
- Onesies. Keep clothing basic now: things that are easy to take on and off and wash. Save the super-cute outfits for when Baby’s a little older and doesn’t need to be changed as often.
- Travel changing pad for on-the-go (or non-nursery) changes.
- Sleep sacks. Get a few in different weights (lighter fabrics for warmer nights; thicker for cooler ones), so no matter the temperature your little one is always comfortable.
- Spit-up cloths
- Swaddling blankets
- Car seat. Learn helpful tips about how to find and install the right car seat here.
- Baby carrier. A carrier, sling or wrap is a life-saver when you want to go on a hike, run errands or simply be hands free to get things done around the house.
- Stroller. There’s no shortage of stroller options, but with a newborn, it’s helpful to have a stroller that lets you snap in an infant car seat.
- Bouncy seat. A bouncy seat is your best friend when you want to sneak in a shower or tackle other projects at home. Many let you attach toys or come with their own.
- Baby bathtub. These fit inside the regular tub or even the sink, and keep that slippery cutie safe during bath time.
- Bottles: Whether or not you’re breastfeeding, it’s nice to have a few bottles on hand, so that others can help out with feedings.
Photo credit: @spicysaltysweethome
For the Nursery
Here, too, a few essentials go a long way.
- A chair for feeding/snuggling. Whether it’s a rocking chair, a glider or just a cushy armchair, you and your partner will be spending a lot of time here, so go for something that’s really, truly comfortable. Place a small table and lamp next to it, so you have a landing pad for water and other supplies, and soft light for those middle-of-the-night wakeups.
- A changing table. Dressers make great changing tables because they also offer storage. Add a changing pad on top and voila! Just be sure that the dresser is high enough for you to reach Baby without hunching. (Save that back!)
- Changing pad and washable covers
- Sound machine. Something that blocks out ambient traffic/TV/sibling/what-have-you noise will go a long way towards your little one sleeping long and well.
- Storage. Corral diaper supplies with bins or baskets near the changing station. Drawer organizers are handy for tidying all those tiny clothes. Hampers or larger bins on the floor easily stash stuffed animals and toys.
- Crib/safe place to sleep. Bassinets or co-sleepers may be a nice choice for when your baby is teeny tiny; a crib for when they’re bigger. Many cribs also transition into toddler beds.
- Art or a mobile. Hang it over the changing pad to give Baby something to check out when you’re on diaper duty.
- A design plan. Help the nursery have a unified look by zeroing in on a specific style, theme or color palette, then make furniture and accessory choices based around that.
Photo credit: @ricaworld
For the first few months of your newborn’s life especially, you’ll be giving a lot to that bundle of joy: time, sleep, nutrients, energy. But you can’t fill someone else’s cup if your own is empty. So make sure you’re prepped with things to take care of you, too.
- A support team. These are the people who will keep you and Baby going during those first tricky days and weeks. If you’re planning to nurse, line up contact info for a trusted lactation consultant (ask your OB or pediatrician for recommendations). Call on friends and family to set up a meal train, or to help out with laundry or cleaning. And never hesitate to reach out to fellow parent friends or family members when you need advice or just a cheerleader. It does indeed take a village to raise a child. Start building yours now.
- Ways to recharge. Every single parent out there has moments of feeling overwhelmed. So early on jot down a few things that help you find calm, then keep your sanity-saving list at the ready. Do a few deep breaths help? Stepping outside? Or try a meditation or mindfulness app like Headspace, Mind the Bump, and MyLife Meditation.
- Exercise. You may already have your own fitness routine, but if not, there are lots of apps to help new moms ease back into physical activity safely, such as Glo, Moms Into Fitness, Revolution Motherhood and Studio Bloom.
- Breastfeeding helpers: If you’re breastfeeding, stock up on a nursing pillow, nipple cream (for sore and cracked nipples) and comfy nursing bras, tops or dresses.
- A freezer stocked with easy-to-reheat meals. Maybe they’re things you cook and freeze before your due date. Maybe they’re store-bought. But when you’re deep in those newborn days, the last thing you want to worry about is what’s for dinner. Ditto goes for a pantry full of healthy, easy-to-grab snacks.
- A big water bottle. Park a large water bottle (that won’t need to be refilled often) by your bed or chair to make it super simple to stay hydrated.
Photo credit: @_carleenmarie_
For Big Sisters and Brothers
It can be tough to suddenly play second fiddle in your own family. Help ease the transition for big sisters and brothers with these ideas:
- Plan fun surprises. Ask friends or family members to plan activities or pick up older siblings for play dates, outings and adventures. In these socially-distant times, it could be as simple as friends dropping off a fun new craft kit, activity or toy for siblings, or setting up virtual play dates. (Bonus: These surprises give you a bit of a break, too!)
- Hold space for big feelings. Stock up on some socio-emotional toys and books, wonderful tools to help siblings express the complicated feelings attached to having a new baby in the house.
- Give siblings a baby of their own to take care of.
- Make a photo book. Fill it with snapshots of big brother or sister growing up as a reminder that they’ll always be your baby, too.
Photo credit: @therealcindy
They may be itty bitty…but they’re learning fast! These tips and toys are perfect for playtime for you and your little one!
- Stimulate Baby’s visual development with toys that have strong color contrasts and graphics.
- Babies love to touch and grab, so fill their world with interesting textures, from a soft rug to a baby-safe book to teething toys. This one also has rings that rattle. And speaking of sound…
- Make music! Egg shakers, maracas, tambourines, anything that clacks and clatters will get Baby’s attention. Put on your own favorite tunes and dance along.
- Read to Baby. Sure, it’ll be a while before they understand the words, but they’ll start to get familiar with sounds and you get to share your favorite stories.
- For more ways to play with Baby, check out these ideas.