Baby Essentials Checklist - What You Really Need


Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is a very exciting time, whether this is your first child or your fifth! Chances are you'll be bombarded with choices for baby products, clothes and toiletries, and can be left wondering what exactly you really need to be prepared for when your little one is born.

As many mothers will attest, it is way too easy to buy more than you need, and if you're working to a tight budget you'll probably want to stick with the essentials rather than spend on niceties you may never get around to using.

Here then is a list of the most essential items you will need to be prepared for the arrival of a new baby, with a few suggestions for additional items you might want. I've also created a printable PDF version of this list as a handy reference guide.

What you will need for baby

  • Lots of bibs and/or muslin squares
  • 1-2 packs of newborn size nappies
  • Nappy sacks
  • Cotton wool balls or pads
  • Changing mat
  • Fully reclining pram/pushchair/travel system
  • Car seat (suitable from birth)
  • 6 sleepsuits
  • 6 short-sleeved vests/bodysuits
  • 2 cardigans/light jackets
  • Shawl or snowsuit (depending on the time of year)
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens
  • 2 pairs of bootees
  • 2 hats
  • A cot, complete with a new mattress
  • 3-4 fitted cot sheets
  • 2-3 flat cot sheets
  • 2-3 cellular blankets
  • If bottlefeeding: 6 bottles with newborn teats, a steriliser and infant formula milk

Extras you may like for baby

  • A moses basket/crib
  • Fitted and flat crib sheets
  • Baby bath
  • Sling/baby carrier
  • Bouncy chair
  • Baby monitor
  • Changing bag
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby nail scissors
  • Baby brush and comb
  • Baby towel(s), with hood
  • If breastfeeding: breast pump

Things you need for yourself

  • Maternity pads
  • Lots of large cheap (or disposable) knickers
  • Breast pads
  • Nursing/maternity bras
  • Loose nightdresses (front opening if you are planning to breastfeed)

New vs. Secondhand

You should always purchase a new mattress, even if your cot or crib is secondhand. The same applies to car seats, since there is no guarantee that a used seat will be completely safe, even if it appears to be fully intact.

Almost everything else you will need for baby can be purchased secondhand.

When shopping for a pushchair or travel system, be sure to test out various models in baby stores to ensure they fit your requirements. Once you know the make and model you would like to buy, check eBay, Gumtree and local baby sales to purchase at a fraction of the price!

Cots and cribs are almost always available to buy used. It is easier to purchase standard sizes to ensure you can easily find a new mattress to fit (which should be snug with no gaps around the edges to ensure baby cannot trap her head).

Baby clothes are quickly outgrown and are rarely worn out. Ask around to see if friends or family may have a bag of used clothes to save forking out for new items if you're on a tight budget. 

What are your tips for new baby purchases?

We'd love to learn your tips for buying products for a new baby. Please feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions below.

Photo credit: Raphael Goetter, via Flickr