What to buy and what not to buy before baby arrives

When I was pregnant for more than 20 weeks, I started to think about what to buy in preparation for my newborn baby. I searched online and the baby info sites would usually suggest a big “checklist” like 2 hats, 5 pairs of socks, 6 sleepers etc. While those lists are a good starting point to buy for your baby, I would recommend getting only the absolute essentials for your baby as a start. As well, if you are having a baby shower prior to giving birth, it is also a good idea to separate that list from what you will buy for your baby. With the list below, I am highlighting what is essential to have before baby arrives and some tips associated with each item. There are some self-explanatory ones like bibs and sleeping bags that are not listed here but feel free to post a comment if you have comments relating to things not listed here 🙂

The essentials:

1. Crib  – A comfy place for baby to sleep. There are guidelines for cribs which the government safety will post. Search for the one which applies to your country.

2. Diaper changing pad

3. Diapers (1 box of size 0 to bring to hospital) and wipes

Tip: Certain department stores like Walmart may have sales throughout the year for diapers. This is something you may want to stock up before baby arrives as it is heavy to carry all these boxes home (even if online shipping is available).

4. Vitamin D drops – ideally baby should start taking it the first week it is born. Some moms forget to give their baby vitamin D until they are told by the pediatrician. I think it helps with their skin complexion as they are usually born a little yellow with their liver still establishing its function in the beginning.

5. Onesies and sleepers – In the beginning, it is best to keep baby in a sleeper to keep their little toes warm. You don’t need to stock up too many of newborn size sleepers (0-3 months) as they grow very fast during the first month. If they are born small or grow slowly, you can always buy more later.

Tip: Better to get sleepers with zipper instead of buttons to quickly get them in and out (especially during winter or if they don’t like diaper change)

6. Hat – newborns are still new to regulating their body temperature so they keep to their little bodies warm by wearing a hat. It is better to get one which is stretchable because their heads grow very quickly.

Tip: Don’t buy too many hats in advance. With the their heads growing quickly and season changing as they grow, they may not be able to fit into the bigger winter hat by the time summer comes.

7. Bathing needs – bath towel, bathtub and bath powder


Bath towel – it is a good idea to get a bigger one again for the reason that they will grow quickly. Don’t bother with the baby size one if you can find a bigger one between a baby and adult size.

Bathtub(s) – a good item to put in the baby registry and to have an extra one to put at the grandparents’ home

Bath soap – before I gave birth, I always thought baby soap = Johnson and Johnson shampoo (in the yellow bottle). I find with most transparent liquid soaps, they tend to cause the skin to be dry after washing. A more moisturizing product would be Aveeno soothing creamy bath wash. I will post more about bathing later.

8. If you are breastfeeding, you will need a …:

  • Nursing pillow: Newborns feed every 2 or 3 hours and for new moms, it may quite heavy to carry a 6-8 lb baby in their arm for half an hour to an hour for a feed. A good nursing pillow really saves the day!
  • Nursing pads: Although a baby feeds from only one breast at a time, strangely enough the reflex which releases breastmilk works at the same time and will release milk from both breasts so you will need something to absorb milk from the let-down.
  • Nursing bra: As a new mom, you will find that you are often lifting up your shirt a lot to feed the baby. It is important to get a nursing bra which fits you comfortably and can conveniently allow baby to access your boob. I find Warner Baby & Me Nursing Bra are quite convenient.

If you are bottle feeding, you will need … :

  • Bottles – Before baby is born, you may not really need to buy any bottle if you first decide to give breastfeeding a try. I say this because babies tend to have different preference for bottle. Some like certain brand over another so it is best to hold off in buying that until they are born to try them out 🙂 Dr. Brown seems to be a brand that moms find their babies drinking comfortably from what I have seen.
  • Formula – this is also something no need to get in advance as some babies tend to have preference on different brands of formula. Tip: Sign up with brands like Similac, Nestle, Enfamil to get samples before baby is born and they may send samples to you (usually around a month before the due date).

So there you go, a newborn baby really just needs milk, diapers, some warm clothing and a comfortable place to sleep. The above is what a baby really needs in the beginning.

The good to haves:

9. Humidifier – If you live in a dry climate or if baby is born in winter time, it is a good idea to have a humidifier to prevent baby from getting a stuffy nose during their sleep.

10. Swaddle blankets – For newborn babies, they may prefer to be swaddled for security and comfort. There are some products like Swaddleme blankets which are especially designed for this purpose. They may be good for the first two weeks but I find that babies tend to outgrow them really fast or breakout of the blanket once they become more active. I think a regular blanket does just as good a job as these specialty blankets. Youtube has tutorials on how to swaddle a baby.

For emergency, you will need…

1. Thermometer: In the first month or two, babies rarely get sick if they are born healthy. You can get a thermometer after they are born if you do forget to get one beforehand. It is when they get their first immunization shot that you need to pay attention to whether they get a fever from it.

Tip: My pediatrician recommends a regular thermometer (digital or not) and just place it between baby’s underarm. Ear thermometers are expensive and not accurate according to my pediatrician.

2. Infant Tylenol: If your baby do get a fever, having infant tylenol around the house is a good idea. I don’t think babies under age 1 can take any over the counter medicine other than Tylenol. Forget about those homeopathic stuff that people try to sell you. I remember getting a lot of samples from a baby show and they are still sitting at my home doing nothing.

What you don’t really need:

1. Wipe warmer – I have seen several friends put wipe warmer in their baby registry and probably end up not getting it in the end. Your baby will get used to the wipe temperature during diaper change.

2. Bottle warmer – If you are able to breastfeed your baby, a bottle warmer is certainly not a need. If you are bottle feeding, a better idea is to get an electronic kettle that can quickly boil water to make formula for your baby.

3. Crib bedding set – Baby bedding sets look really nice and can cost several hundred dollars but they also pose risk for SIDS. I use BreathableBaby Breathable Crib Bumper after my baby started to roll around during his sleep.

4. Shoes – Until babies starts to know how to stand (maybe around 7 months+), babies don’t really need shoes and even when they start walking, many baby sites recommend them to walk in bare feet :).

Tip: Good idea to have 6 pairs of 0-6 months and 6-12 months socks… not too many as they outgrow them quickly too.

I hope you find this list useful!


6 thoughts on “What to buy and what not to buy before baby arrives

  1. lol, aside from some baby clothes and a minimal stash of cloth diapers, the only thing I absolutely can’t live without is my non-stretchy wrap.Carrying baby on my back is the only way I can run after a preschooler all day long and get stuff done. You can also wear your baby while nursing 🙂

    Babies can do without soap. Really, try it. They don’t get that dirty, and water & gentle scrubbing do the trick.

    Agreed on all those “things you don’t need”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you on using cloth diapers, Emily!
      Ya, there was a period of time using baby carrier around 4-5 months when baby didn’t want to nap and I needed to do some chores.

      Agree with you on the soap part. I will post more about this 😉


  2. Great list! very comprehensive 🙂 I would also recommend to keep on hand a thermometer and infant Tylenol. You will never know what you may need in the middle of the night. Found this out the hard way post 2 month immunization and I realize that is the one thing I had forgotten about (especially bad on me, given what I do for living! lol)

    As for clothes, you are absolutely right. Don’t buy too many small sizes. Actually, don’t buy too many clothes in general, since people tend to like to give clothes during baby shower and when they visit the baby for the first time. J’s next sibling has a lot of 0-3 month hand me down clothes as a result 🙂


    • Yes, thermometer and infant Tylenol are what I bought prior to baby being born too. I will add those to the list, Thanks Grace!

      Yeah, if baby is lucky enough to get hand-me-downs, even better! 😀

      Oh “J’s next sibling” sounds nice! hehe…


      • Want to also add – Infants can take advil once they hit 6 months. The benefit of advil is that it is every 6 hours dosing (last 6 hours) whereas Tylenol is every 4 hours. I would never touch any homeopathic stuff and cough/cold meds they cannot take until they are 6 years old. (even then, that stuff is not effective for kids)

        For stuffy nose, due to a cold or due to dryness in environment, good to have saline drops on hand. I like Hydrasense spray for infants. I believe at their tender age, that is all they can use… hope they don’t have to use any! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the note about the Advil vs Tylenol!

    I had to use Hydrasense in January and when my baby had his first cold as they don’t know how to blow their nose. It is a very good product. Also, Hydrasense nasal aspirator works well too.


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