new baby must-haves: the list

Naomi is now almost 11 months old and I’m only NOW putting this list together. Figures. My best friend from elementary school is having a baby so I’ve been inspired to get my act together (congrats Lynda!).

Here is my Essential! List! Of! Must! Have! Baby! Stuff! There are a lot of lists out there, but this is what I think you’ll need for the first couple weeks after your bub is born. After that you’ll be slightly less shell-shocked so you’ll know your little peanut and his/her needs better and can make a run to the nearest drug store as needed.

While I was still pregnant I sent a note out to friends with babes asking, “What the heck do babies need?” My Mama Gurus as I like to call them responded and helped me make my Baby list before Naomi was born (shout out to Amy, Maria, Kat, Lisa, Jacquie, Julie, Erin and of course mom and mom-in-law! Thank you for sharing your wisdom!).

WARNING: Words like “poop” and “lochia” and “butt cream” are used below… consider yourself warned.

Et voilà:

For Baby

  • Sleepers– it’s hard to know what size to get, so go bigger… it’s easier to fit Baby into clothes that are too big than to strong-arm them into just-my-size onsies. I found zippers WAY better than the ones that go over the head and better than snaps (80 zillion snaps for the 80 zillionth time in the middle of the night? That is as horrible as it sounds)
  • Little hat- You’ll probably get one from your midwife/hospital, but it’s good to have a few on hand for the first while
  • Receiving blankets– the bigger the better- I swaddled Naomi to help her sleep- I don’t know if I’ll do that with future babes, but it worked for Naomi (every baby is different though, you’ll know what works best for yours- even if you don’t swaddle you’ll be constantly wrapping them up to keep them warm)
  • Wash cloths- for wiping when you change diapers
  • Baby bum cream– I alternated between a zinc cream if her bum got a bit red (I didn’t buy one ahead of time, I just had some samples I used), a non-petroleum jelly (petroleum isn’t good for skin), GroVia magic stick (all natural diaper ointment- okay for cloth and disposable diapers) and nothing
  • Diapers– If you are going with disposable: newborn size with umbilical cord cut out. It’s tough to know what size, just buy one package now and know your partner will be making a diaper run once you know the size. If I was to do it over again I would have just used disposable for the first few weeks and then went with cloth diapers (I use MG Baby pocket diapers) or a diaper service (where I live a diaper service costs the same as what you would spend on disposables in a week). Even with cloth (which is super easy, by the way) it is really nice to have disposables when you are out and about, especially at first (you may go back and forth with what you do here- we were 100% cloth for quite awhile and recently went back to disposable at night).
  • Nail clippers– Actually, I used a little nail file for the longest time because I was afraid I’d clip her.
  • Bouncy chair This is what made showers possible. John was grateful.
  • Carrier- We have a Beco– love it (there is a hip strap for better support). Got it in all black so John feels comfortable wearing it too. Whatever kind you get I wouldn’t bother getting the infant insert if it’s available- a rolled up receiving blanket in the bottom works just fine. If you can borrow a few for when baby first arrives that would be ideal, that way you can see what works best with your body and your babe.
  • Stroller- You probably won’t need this right away (I didn’t start using ours on a regular basis until Naomi was about 5 months old), but it’s nice to have just in case… just in case you put your back out, just in case it’s super hot out and wearing your babe will be too uncomfortable for both of you, etc. Also, since this is a bigger ticket item you’ll probably want to do some research and check out a few before you buy. This is considerably more difficult to do with a wee one hanging off you/screaming at you/sleeping on you.
  • Car seat- Duh. Even if you plan to have your baby at home (we did) you should have your car seat because you might end up at the hospital.
  • Car sunshade- We have some like this. They aren’t crucial, but when you are driving around with your brand new baby with their brand new skin and some sun falls on their precious little face you will be scrambling to pull over to try and MacGyver a receiving blanket into an adequate sun barrier. After a couple weeks you will get over this, but save yourself the trouble until then.

For Mom

  • Nipple cream- (if you’re breastfeeding) I didn’t find lanolin all that helpful, but others seem to. What helped me: Dr. Jack Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment, by prescription (stay on top of your nipple situation, if you are sore talk to someone immediately- make an appointment that day, don’t wait. I wrote a bit about my breastfeeding experience here)
  • Journal/baby book– Write it all down. As much as you think you will never forget… you will. WAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!! Oh my god, that is sad.
  • Freeze some food now- you won’t want to cook ever again for a month-ish
  • Prunes, various high fibre food- Okay. This is VERY IMPORTANT. Pay attention to what I don’t mind calling a great big ol’ gem of advice: Tell your partner and every single person around you to keep giving you bran muffins, prunes etc. You’ll probably forget to eat and you’ll likely eat whatever is put in front of you. High fiber is a VERY good option. Your system slows right down during/after birth and, ahem, getting things started again can take some work. Are you getting me here? Do I have to write the word “hemorrhoids”? Too much information? Anyway, eat your prunes and drinks lots of water.
  • Water bottles- See previous point. Station water bottles everywhere and DRINK. IT. ALL.
  • Depends That’s right, adult diapers. Get the pull up kind- this is for lochia. They could also be handy during labour if your water breaks a million times like yours truly did.
  • Nursing pads- I recommend Lansinoh disposable… change them constantly. You will likely be able to switch over to reusable later on, but at first you might leak too much for them to handle.
  • Nursing bra- I got one before Naomi was born when I was about 38 weeks or so and then got another after once I knew I liked it. I used a Bravado bra. Be warned: This is not a flattering bra. As a rule I hate nursing bras. They get better once you fit back into a consistent size.
  • Sleep bra- A looser bra to sleep in so you don’t end up with milk all over you and your sheets and you can just pull it over to nurse- I have one like this.
  • Breastfeeding Support- This isn’t a product, but very VERY important in my opinion. I wrote some on breastfeeding here, but the short version: Read up on breastfeeding before your bub arrives. My midwife told me that most women who want to breastfeed can and although Naomi and I weren’t without our troubles (ahem), I think that little tidbit of info plus the reading I did beforehand was a huge help once Naomi entered the scene (we are at almost 11 months and going strong. Again, it might take some work and it doesn’t work for everyone, but being prepared can only help).
  • Cold packs (2)- These pillows sent from heaven are good to sit on in the days after your babe is born and they are good to hold under your armpits when your milk comes in and you are engorged (for me I only wanted the icepacks under my arms for a day & a half; don’t worry, the whole engorgement thing doesn’t last long).
  • Peri-bottle- The hospital/your midwife will likely give you one, if they don’t, ask for one. It’s a bottle that you fill with water and spray on yourself for when you pee- peeing stings your lady bits for a few days, the peri-bottle helps a lot. Motherhood is super glamorous.
  • A little bag to carry stuff- I used a little bag around the house when I wasn’t yet feeling like running up and down the stairs all day. I’d fill it with the following: phone, nipple cream, journal, lip balm, nursing pads, water bottle, magazine. It always sat beside my bed or in the living on the chair where I nursed.
  • Night light- A neighbour of ours gave us one right after Naomi was born and it was super helpful. It migrated around between my room, Naomi’s room (where the change table is), the hall and the bathroom. We don’t use it anymore, but for months it was invaluable.
  • Nursing cover- Something to cover your bits when you’re out and about. I don’t think you have to cover up if you don’t want to, but I found in the beginning getting Naomi latched wasn’t the smoothest of processes and I wasn’t comfortable doing the Flash Dance while we got sorted.
  • Breastfeeding Pillow– A friend of mine lent me hers and I’m so grateful she did. When you first start out finding a position that works for you and your bub can take awhile and the pillow can really help. On this topic: I highly recommend these positions for nursing: Laying back and sidelying. With laying back you lay back on pillows with your baby laying tummy to tummy, their feet pointing down to your feet. If baby is on your right you put pillows under your right arm… and relax. This position will save your neck. For sidelying, here’s a video.


  • Draft your birth announcement email ahead of time so you have all your email addresses etc lined up before you’re in a daze.
  • When you get presents and you write little notes to yourself about what gifts you receive be REALLY specific. You think you’ll remember which “cute little outfit” the neighbour from two doors over got you but let me assure you, you won’t.
  • Sort out your thank you cards ahead of time. Also, don’t decide on a fun little diy project for said thank you cards. Keep it simple. Trust me.
  • Arrange to have someone come in to clean your house at least once a month for the first 4 months… or longer. I bought Groupons when they came around and it was SO AWESOME. You shouldn’t be taxing yourself with cleaning in the first month for sure- when friends ask “what can I do to help” point them in the direction of a broom or pay someone to do the whole shebang.
  • Have dogs? If you can, drop them off somewhere else for a week or so. It is nice to live in the protective New Baby bubble for awhile and it is nice for your dogs to eat and go to the bathroom and stuff (you might just forget about these important things in the first few days).

 Things I didn’t include:

  • Crib- We had one long before Naomi was born but she didn’t sleep in it until she was about 6 months old (at first just for naps). Naomi slept in a bassinet at first then in bed with me (don’t judge, don’t judge… 70% of people admit to bedsharing at least part of the night with their babe… and the rest are lying (kidding… kind of). Check out Dr. James McKenna). It was really handy for laundry and a safe place to plunk her though so you may want to get one right away.
  • Change table- I have one and I love it, but you could just put a changing pad on a dresser. It is handy to have something up off the ground because you spend a lot of your time bending up and down, it’s nice not to have to crouch on the ground for the gazillion changes that happen in a day (especially in the beginning).
  • Monitor- For the first several months Naomi slept on me (after nursing, for walks) or right beside me- from that vantage point I could hear her VERY well. If you plan to go to a crib right away though you would probably use it more.

There you go! An overall comment- try to get as much as you can second hand/borrow from your friends. They grow so fast they won’t get a chance to wear anything out.

What did I forget?

6 Responses to “new baby must-haves: the list”

  1. Shannon says:

    This is one the the best lists I have seen! With Everly I think I might of shot myself if I didn’t have Dr. Newman’s cream!! For the record my kids STILL sleep with me. 😛 And you are so right about the cold packs. Wish I had had your list before Everly was born and known it had everything on it I would need. There are many lists out there and it was hard to know what I did and didn’t need. I had to send poor Jeff out many times in those first few days for various items.

    Great Job!!

    • Thank you Shannon! John made many trips out too, I think it’s part of their job description 🙂

      RE: Bedsharing… Naomi seems to have moved herself to her crib… makes me sad! Our mattress isn’t on the floor and she was waking up and crawling around and I was afraid she’d fall off. I tried putting the playpen in our room but she wasn’t sleeping there so I put her in her crib (she had been sleeping there for naps). Sigh 🙂

  2. Kat Orsi says:

    Awesome Shauna,
    I only suggestion, a peri bottle for every bathroom and one for the diaper bag, that way you know it’s there. Also best advice my lactation consultant gave, PEE FORWARD, the other, lean back. Forever love her for that bit of advice.
    XO Kat

    • VERY good suggestions! I remember “running” upstairs because that was where the peri bottle was… sigh 🙂 And pee forward! Brilliant! I wish I had had that advice! Very good, I’m adding both of those, thank you!

  3. Ruth says:

    Other necessities:
    Understanding friends and family who support you and not question your choices.
    A sense of humour to get you through the rough parts of being a new mama.
    A supportive partner to help you believe in yourself as a mama and to work with as a team.
    Have a calendar with big spaces to write down what baby has been doing. There isn’t always time for fancy baby books.
    A friendly La Leche League Leader to call or email! 😉
    Cheers from Ruth

    • These are great points, especially the last one, “a friendly La Leche League Leader to call or email” 🙂

      @Everyone- Ruth is a LLL Leader and a fabulous one at that!

      Thank you for your comment!