Newborn Essentials

I shared the super TMI post about what I loved having on hand for my recovery when I got home from the hospital, but I’ve also been thinking about all the actual baby stuff we use on a daily basis. As a first-time mom, I was asking friends and stalking the internet trying to figure out what I would need to make life with a newborn as easy as possible. It’s so hard to know what is truly necessary vs. nice to have, but hopefully this list will help other first-time parents narrow down the essentials. 


  • Nursing Pillow – This one is truly my b(r)est friend and I recommend it to anyone who will listen. The standard covers are pretty meh, but my mom recently bought this one for me and I’m loving it. Thanks, ma!
  • Nipple Cream – I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this will save you. I’ve started using it with my breast pump, too.
  • Breast Pump – I was able to get this one for free through my insurance, so double check before purchasing anything! After watching a YouTube tutorial on how to work the damn thing, you quickly realize how easy it is to assemble and use. Hallelujah.
  • Pumping Bra – I didn’t know how vital this hands-free bra would be until I started using it, but OMG — so freaking necessary. You pop the funnel things (technical term) from the pump kit into each of the openings in the bra and then literally do anything you want while you pump all of that liquid gold. And by anything you want, I mean anything you can do sitting down that doesn’t involve a lot of movement. So, like, watch some TV, work on your laptop, or scroll through IG, per usual.
  • Bottles – I feel like everyone has their favorite bottles, so it’s really just a matter of opinion here. Or a matter of what your baby will eat out of, actually. We introduced River to these ones after a few weeks of exclusively breastfeeding. He liked them well enough, but then I got super lazy with pumping. After a month of zero bottle feeding, he refused the original brand and we’re now using these ones. I’m not sure if it’s the nipple or the vent, but either way, it’s working!
  • Bottle Brush – You probably (ABSOLUTELY) don’t want to clean your baby’s bottles with the same brush you use for your own dishes, so I recommend this one. And after you clean those bottles, you’re going to want to dry them. The white grass drying rack is where it’s at.


  • Rock ’n Play – River slept in his Rock ’n Play for the first two months and did great with it. The incline made us first-time parents feel less anxious about him spitting up in the middle of the night, it folds up nicely for travel, and is raised for easy bedside checks. It worked well this time around, but I think I’ll go for the DockATot for the next babe. I think getting your baby used to lying flat will make for an easier crib transition and you can seriously take this thing everywhere. It’d be awesome for naps at the park, beach, grandma’s living room, etc.
  • Swaddles – The key is to get ones that velcro or zip to avoid having to do an expert fold every time. For the first couple months, we were obsessed with these ones. They’re super easy to use and River loved how snug they were. Once he started rolling, we transitioned to sleep sacks. We’re loving this one and this one.
  • Shusher – I’ve mentioned using this for sleeping, but really, we use it all day long. It’s really straightforward — a volume knob and two timer settings. The only flaw, aside from it being pretty ugly (#vainmom), is that the speaker is on the only flat part. So, if you try to stand it up, the volume is completely muffled. We just lay it flat under his crib or prop it up near his waist in the carseat. The highest volume is pretty loud, so be careful not to get the speaker to close to your babe’s ears.
  • White Noise Machine – This one is the real hero of sleep. We have one in our room and in the nursery.


  • Diapers – If you’re using reusable diapers, you HAVE to get the ones with the pee indicator. Most brands have them (not the cute, expensive Honest ones, of course), but it’s a line down the center that changes color when the diaper gets wet. Genius! 
  • Wipes – Learn from my mistake and only get these wipes. They’re made up of 99.9% water and will likely agree with baby’s sensitive skin a lot more than the others. We were using Babyganics wipes for the first month and Riv got terrible raw skin down yonder. It was probably a combination of the wipes and excessive wiping by paranoid parents, but we haven’t had an issue since switching brands. This dispenser has also been a gem!  The wipes are easy to grab and they stay moist (cue giggles) no matter how many times you forget to close the lid.
  • Changing pad – I’m sure any of the them will do, but we like this one. It works with all of the standard covers and is totally affordable. You’ll also need a cover like this one. Make sure and get some extra liners for on top of the cover (three layers — I realize this is insane) so you don’t have to be doing non-stop laundry. Some of the cheaper ones have to hang dried (hung dried?!), but these ones can handle the dryer.
  • Diaper Pail – We use this one and love it! The metal material locks in the smell and there’s no need for specific trash bags, either. You can use whatever you already buy for your kitchen.
  • Diaper Bags – Speaking of smell, you’ll want some of these for diaper-changing on the go.
  • Wipe Clutch – We use this one because it’s easy to refill, lightweight, and comes in fun prints. Just a head’s up, though — the prints are random on Amazon. You order and don’t know what you’re getting until it arrives. Luckily, all of the prints I’ve seen are pretty cute.


  • Bath – We got this one and it’s been great to use in both the bathtub and in a large sink. The rubber mesh back grips Riv well enough into place and makes for easy drainage and cleanup.
  • Soap – I was paranoid about what might irritate his skin, so we opted for this one. It’s gentle, doesn’t have an over-powering scent, and comes with a pump. A little bit goes a long way and it isn’t drying at all.
  • Towel – There are so many cute hooded ones out there, but I feel like it can be tricky to find ones that are actually absorbent. I still haven’t found the perfect one, but we’re liking these straightforward ones at the moment. No cute hood, but they’re a good size and actually absorb the water.
  • Washcloths – We go through washcloths a lot around here and these are our favorites. They’re super soft, all natural, and don’t have any harmful dyes. Besides using them during bath time, we also use them as “pee pee covers” during diaper changes. We haven’t used a peepee teepee before, but I can’t imagine those staying on very well and they’re kind of a ripoff!


  • Swing – This swing came highly recommended to us by some friends of ours and we ended up buying it pretty last-minute. Since we already had the Rock ’n Play, we weren’t sure if having another thing for River to lie down in was really necessary. But we are SO glad we took our friends’ advice. It’s a different movement than the Rock ’n Play, lays a little more flat, swings in two different directions, plays music (albeit terrible music), and has a removable seat. The removable seat is my favorite because I can bring him into the kitchen with me or in the bathroom while I’m showering so I can peak my head out and see him easily.
  • Lounger – This was another thing I was a little hesitant about but it has turned out to be something we use constantly. We bring it with us to the beach, to the park, to our friends’ and families’ houses. It’s nice to have something to place Riv in other than his carseat and makes for easy hanging out at home with everyone on the couch, too.
  • Play Mat – I didn’t know how much River would use this early on, but it’s been great for tummy time and having him start to engage with all of the attached toys. I love this one because of the colors and cute patterns.
  • Bibs – Like I mentioned, spitting up happens A LOT. I have one of these bandana bibs on him every day because it’s easier to change these out than an entire outfit.
  • Muslin Blankets – We seriously have one of these everywhere – over the lounger, over the swing, over his feet in the carseat, over me while I’m breastfeeding. We love these ones because of the size and you really can’t have too many.
  • Carrier – Some kind of lightweight, soft carrier is a must. The Solly Wrap has been amazing for us and it’s one of my favorite ways to bond with Riv while we’re out and about. It’s one we could use right away, rather than needing a special insert or having to wait until he was a certain size. We also have this more heavy duty one that we just recently starting using. It’s super easy to put on and adjust, and it’s going to be great for longer walks when we don’t want to use the stroller.
  • Burp rags – If I had 40 burp rags, I think I’d still feel the need for more. These ones are my favorite because they’re super soft and big enough to clean up even the most insane messes. Most infants spit up a ton and River has been no exception. I’m not exaggerating when I say he spits up, or more recently, projectile vomits, close to 20 times a day. Sometimes it’s a little, sometimes it’s a lot, but we’ve found that having a burp rag near us at all times has been the key to avoiding ruined furniture, blankets, hair, clothes, etc. 
  • Butt Brush – Never thought you’d see those two words together, did you? If you’ve got a butt rash or circumcised penis to deal with, this “brush” is an absolute must for applying creams, ointments, Vaseline, etc. I highly recommend getting the one with the travel case so you can toss it in your diaper bag without worrying about getting said cream, ointment, Vaseline, etc. on everything in sight.
  • Stain Remover – Blowouts are inevitable, but throwing away cute baby clothes doesn’t have to be. This spray has been such a lifesaver. I’ll rinse the soiled clothes with cold water, spray, let it set, and then do a little rubbing action on the stain under cold water again and I swear it works like magic!
  • Carseat cover – I have this one and this one and love them both! They help deter strangers from reaching into the car seat when you’re out and about and it also acts as a little sleeping cocoon. River has had some of his best naps in restaurants thanks to these covers. I’ve also used them to cover up while breastfeeding in public and will likely use them to line the seats of shopping carts once he’s older.
  • Car Mirror – Driving your new baby around is anxiety-inducing enough as it is, so a mirror is necessary for your sanity. We got this two-pack and put one in each of our cars.
  • Window Shade – Depending on where the sun is, we’ll occasionally keep the carseat cover on during car rides. But I like being able to see him and still keep him protected, so the window shade has been a great addition.
  • Gripe Water – We used this a lot in for the first month or so when River was really gassy. There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby in pain but not knowing what to do. This stuff was kind of miracle-worker and gave him instant relief when nothing else would. 
  • Thermometer – We love being able to use this super non-invasive thermometer on his forehead. It makes the lives of paranoid parents a lot easier knowing that you can take baby’s temperature without pissing him or her off every time.
  • Nail File – Nail clippers make me nervous, so I opted for a file instead. River’s finger nails grow at an alarmingly fast rate and this file has been perfect. I usually file them every couple days while he’s breastfeeding and most relaxed.

If it seems like a lot, it’s because it is! Try not to get too overwhelmed and just buy a couple things at a time if that makes it more manageable. And if you’re lucky, a baby shower or two will knock a bunch of these off for you 😉



And FYI! I’m a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. 

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