Must-Have Newborn & Postpartum Items (+ Items I Wasted Money On)

The following is a list of things I found essential for baby’s first few months of life, as well as things I have that I didn’t end up needing. Every mama and baby are different, but I wanted to write down my list in case it helps any other first time mamas making their baby registries.

MUST-HAVES

Stool softener: They gave me a pill each day at the hospital, but I took them for at least another week. The first few postpartum bowel moments are a doozy!

Burp cloths: Babies spit up. A lot. You can’t have too many burp cloths! We have over 15 and I’m constantly looking in the laundry to find a clean one.

Diaper genie for each floor: Who wants to run upstairs to the nursery every time they change the baby in the living room? Not me! We have a diaper genie for each floor of the house. Make sure to get a few months’ worth of bags and filters too.

Freemie cups: I use the Spectra S1 breast pump, which I highly recommend. With breast pumps, though, you have to hold the flanges on your breasts the entire time. Freemie makes a collection cup that goes in your bra so you can pump hands free. You can also get a special bra to hold your breast pump flanges, but I found it much more convenient to use the Freemie cups. I would have needed several of the bras to avoid daily laundry, and I didn’t want to have to wear a special bra all the time. Freemie also makes inserts for different nipple sizes, so make sure to get fitted for your correct size.

Sleep gowns: These are so convenient for diaper changes in the middle of the night.

Footed pajamas: You can’t have too many of these! Especially the ones that zip instead of snap. You’ll probably want a couple of cute outfits for photo ops and outings, but the majority of a newborn’s time can be spent in jammies.

Electric tea kettle: If you ever use formula, whether exclusively or for supplementing, a tea kettle will boil water for you at the flick of a button.

Car mirror: I once pulled the car over to make sure my quiet baby was still alive. Thanks postpartum anxiety. Never again! A mirror in the back seat to show you baby’s face is a must-have.

Dish tub: You will need a washing basin if you plan to wash bottles, paci’s and/or pump parts by hand. You just throw them in the tub with hot water and dish soap.

Drying rack & bottle brush: Sometimes it’s easier to just hand wash your bottles instead of waiting for the dishwasher to be full. And a lot of pump parts have to be hand washed.

Nursing tanks: The two shirt method for breastfeeding is amazing! It comes in handy even if you’re not in public, because it keeps your belly from being exposed and cold. The two shirt method is where you lift up your T-shirt/blouse and lift down your tank to feed baby. Your stomach and the top of your chest remain covered, exposing only your breast. I wear a nursing tank under my shirt every day, so I recommend having one for as many days in a row you don’t plan on doing laundry.

Nursing scarf: I use a nursing scarf for additional coverage when nursing in public. Many babies hate being covered, but Emelia doesn’t mind it and I am extremely self-conscious.

Newborn bottles: If you plan on giving your baby formula or pumped breastmilk, you’ll need bottles with a slow flow (to minimize gas and spitting up). I use the Philips Avent bottles, as well as the Dr. Brown’s and MAM anti-colic bottles. The Philips are my favorite because they fit on the Spectra pump, and my set included two different colors, which I used to differentiate my breast milk from formula and donor milk when I was supplementing at the beginning. Some babies are very picky, so I wouldn’t get too many of one brand until you know he/she will take them.

Portable changing pad: We have one for the living room that we throw on the couch for diaper changes, as well as one we keep in the diaper bag for on the go. It’s a rare occasion we’re actually in the nursery near the changing table.

Diapers with the line indicator: I will only use diapers with the yellow line that turns blue when baby goes potty. Who wants to undo the diaper or stick their finger inside every time? Not me! We use Pampers Swaddlers at our house. Don’t forget wipes!

Bath thermometer: We have a rubber ducky that tells us the temperature of the bath water. After a couple dozen baths, you will probably be a pro at knowing how hot to make the water, but until then, a thermometer is really helpful (the water should be around 100 degrees).

Nursing pillow: When baby is really tiny, having him/her in your lap to nurse will kill your back. You will want a pillow to lift baby up. I have the Boppy pillow that wraps around my waist. Don’t forget to buy an extra cover so you can have one to use and one to wash.

Infant lounger: You will want somewhere to safely set the baby down while you’re not holding him/her. I was not a fan of the Boppy lounger, but most people love it. I like the loungers that vibrate and play sound. Bonus points if they have toys for baby to grab when he/she gets a bit older.

Extra sets of bed sheets: Whether you’re bed sharing or keeping baby in a basinet/crib, you’ll need a few sheets so you’re not constantly doing laundry. If your baby is anything like mine, he/she will spit up on the sheets every night.

Breastmilk storage bags: If you plan to pump, you’ll probably want some breastmilk freezer bags. Some mamas keep their milk in a mason jar in the fridge to save the environment, but I use the disposable bags. The Kiinde Twist bags are the best, but they’re pricey. Between Lansinoh and Medela, the Medela ones are a lot thicker and easier to handle.

Heating pad for breasts: I love nursing/pumping after a hot shower or after a few minutes wearing a heating pad on my breast (to get the milk flowing). You can also freeze them and use them as ice packs after feeding/pumping if you’re sore.

Bathtub: We bathe Emelia in a plastic whale tub that we place in the kitchen sink. It’s a lot easier on my back to stand up instead of bend down over the bathroom tub.

Nose Frida/Boogie Mist: Babies can’t blow or pick their noses, so these items are essential.

Electric nail trimmer: Trimming a tiny human’s nails with a nail clipper is SCARY. One millimeter too close and you draw blood. They make an electric nail trimmer that files down the nails but won’t cut baby’s skin.

Nipple cream: Breastfeeding hurts at first. Get your poor nips some cream! I highly recommend coconut oil, which will last you much longer than the nipple creams, plus it’s a natural anti-fungal which will help protect you from thrush.

Car seat cover: Protect baby from germs by covering his/her carseat when you go places like the doctor.

Baby wash/lotion: You’ll want a gentle wash and lotion for baby’s sensitive skin.

Diaper rash cream: We use Desitin — the purple container.

Portable fan: We have one with legs that wrap around the stroller. It comes in handy for summer walks and trips to the lake.

Sun hat/rash guard: A must-have for pool, lake, or beach days.

Mist spray bottle: These are really handy for summer days outside. I bought ours for 4th of July on the lake and it was perfect for keeping baby cool.

Activity gym: Our activity mat is a Godsend! Emelia absolutely loves it, and it gives me a chance to put her down and get stuff done around the house while she plays.

Blankets: Baby blankets are the softest! We let baby sleep with blankets during nap time when we are watching her. We also lay her on them for photo ops.

Breastmilk cooler bag: You will need this if you drop the baby off somewhere (like your parents’ house) with pumped milk bottles. Or if you go out somewhere and don’t feel like pulling your boob out.

Swim diapers: I use these for co-bathing. It’s a great bonding experience to do skin-to-skin in a warm bath, but you definitely don’t want baby pooping on you! I unfortunately learned this the hard way. Luckily they make reusable, waterproof diapers.

Prenatal vitamins: If you plan to breastfeed, I would have a few months’ worth of prenatals on hand.

Yoga ball: If you hold your baby while bouncing on a yoga ball, he/she will fall asleep pretty effortlessly (or at least mine does).

Diaper bag: Even in a pandemic this is a must-have item. We use the backpack style with lots of pouches.

NICE-TO-HAVES

A full wardrobe: I purchased a full wardrobe for baby’s first year of life while I was pregnant. You might want to wait on the seasonal stuff like swimsuits, jackets, and holiday apparel until you know what size baby will be during certain seasons. You might also want to hold off on buying too many newborn items if you predict a large baby. Or you might want to only buy the smaller sizes and wait to get the larger ones. But I personally found it very therapeutic to clothes shop during pregnancy — it made me feel connected to the baby and focus on my excitement rather than my anxiety. I had 9 months of sales instead of having to purchase a lot at one time. And once she was here, it was comforting knowing I had a full wardrobe and wasn’t scrambling to buy things for her (although I did scramble to find her a few premie things, as she was born small).

Baby hangers & size dividers: I hung up every baby item in her closet, separated by size with hanging dividers. As I use an item for the first time, I wash it and put it in baby’s dresser. So her dresser is full of the size she is currently wearing.

Bibs: Great for protecting baby’s clothes from getting wet from spit up, although it’s not ideal to wear them all day. I usually only use them when baby is in a special outfit. Otherwise I just change her clothes a few times a day. And the bibs will be great for when baby starts solids.

Hooded bath towels: these are completely overpriced and unnecessary (you can use whatever towels you already own, including hand towels if baby is small enough). But they’re so stinking cute that I’m glad we got a few.

Baby wash cloths: You can certainly use your hand or an adult wash cloth, but the baby ones are nice to have.

Owlet sock monitor: I’d be ok without it, but it gives me peace of mind.

White noise machine: Some babies can’t sleep without one. It doesn’t seem to make a difference for us, but just in case it’s soothing to her, I like to use ours.

Sun shade for the car: Keeps the sun out of baby’s eyes and doubles as a privacy screen if you ever need to jump in the back seat and nurse your babe.

Lactation massager: I use a little vibrating tool to ease the milk out of the hard spots on my breast. You can massage your breasts with your hand, but it’s nice to have an electric massager to do it for you.

Windi gas reliever: It’s never produced a bowel movement for us, but some moms swear by it. It has definitely removed some gas for us, which I’m sure feels better for baby. Pro tip: the non name brands work just as well.

Happi Tummi: This heating pad for baby’s belly comes in handy when Emelia is having gas pain.

Gas drops/gripe water: These never really did much for us, but most moms swear by them and I like having them in the house just in case.

Swing: I definitely wouldn’t spend the money on a brand new one, but if you can get one second hand they are nice to have.

Steam sterilizer: Dishwashing and hand washing work just as well, but sometimes it’s nice to just throw all my bottles and paci’s into the microwave for 5 minutes. Just be careful because many pump parts can’t go into a steam sterilizer.

Skin firming lotion: I have no clue if it’s working (probably not), but it gives me peace of mind knowing I’m at least attempting to firm up my squishy belly.

Baby carrier/baby wrap: Many moms wear their babies all the time, but I find it difficult to get chores done with baby in the way. It’s also hard to bend down or sit down. But I’m glad I have my carriers for short walks and quick errands. I have a carrier, a wrap, and a ring sling and my favorite is the wrap. It’s really tricky to learn how to use them but once you do, it’s a piece of cake.

Forehead thermometer: This is completely unnecessary and a little less accurate than a rectal thermometer, but if you want a quick temp reading without having to stick anything up baby’s bottom, a forehead swipe is the way to go.

Diaper caddy: We keep diapers, wipes, and cream in a cute little caddy in the living room. You can totally do without one, but it keeps things organized and pretty.

Delivery gown: It’s probably a one-time use item, as it will definitely get blood on it, but I liked wearing my own gown at the hospital.

Letter board for birth announcement: Obviously there are other (free) ways to announce your baby’s birth stats, but I liked our pretty letter board. We still have it displayed in our kitchen, with baby’s name, birthdate, weight and height.

Manual pump: A $25 pump is obviously unnecessary if you have a hospital grade $400 pump like Spectra or Medela, but I like having my little manual one for “quickie” pumps. It’s less bulky, it’s easier to take places since you don’t have to be attached to tubing, and it usually gets a decent amount of milk out within 5 minutes.

Boobie Body protein powder: I love having the ability to make a quick protein shake in the mornings. While I’m stressing out trying to get baby fed, dressed, etc., it’s a great way to get some quick nutrients. I’m sure any brand is great, but this one is designed specifically for moms and doesn’t have fenugreek (an herb that tanks some women’s milk supply).

Probiotics with Vitamin D: Breastfed babies need vitamin D drops, so why not kill two birds with one stone by helping their gut health too? Probiotics help their digestive system, which in turn helps with colic.

All Free & Clear laundry detergent: Emelia has never struggled with rashes or sensitive skin, so sometimes I just wash her clothes with ours (in scented detergent), but for peace of mind I usually use All Free & Clear detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets.

Growth chart: We have one of those big ruler decorations you hang on the wall to track your child’s height. Many people make little tick marks on their door or wall, but you can’t take that with you when you move.

Breast shells: I never leaked breastmilk, but these were nice to have in the beginning of my breastfeeding journey when I was in a lot of pain. They kept my nipple from rubbing against my clothes.

Humidifier: I’m putting this in the nice-to-have category because we’ve never used ours, but I’m glad we have it if baby ever gets sick.

Oatmeal bath treatment: Emelia doesn’t have eczema, but it’s still nice to soak her in an oatmeal bath every once in a while. It makes me feel like I’m keeping her skin soft. You can use breastmilk instead, but I don’t produce an over supply so every drop is used for feedings.

Legendairy Milk supplements: I tried SO MANY lactation products and lactogenic foods, and Milkapalooza was the only thing that worked for me. They contain an herb recommended by my lactation consultant called moringa. The supplements are expensive and my lactation consultant recommended taking basic moringa supplements to save money, but I really like the Legendairy Milk product. Some say lactation companies prey on a woman’s insecurity to provide enough nourishment for her child, and the only thing you need to do to increase your supply is nurse more often, and I think that’s mostly true, but the Milkapalooza does make a difference for me.

Bows: If you have a girl, you will need a bow in every color 🙂 I recommend small shops on Etsy. Don’t forget some type of bow storage. I use a towel hanger — one of those over the door hangers with several hooks on it.

Teething products: Emelia started teething early (around 10 or 11 weeks). I was glad we had some teething items on hand, although she’s a bit too young to be able to hold them in her mouth (she drops them and then cries).

Rinser and shower visor: The visor keeps water out of baby’s eyes and the rinser helps dump water on her head when washing her hair.

Pacifiers: It took a lot of trial and error to find a brand Emelia liked, and a lot of waiting for her to even be able to hold a paci, but they’re a life saver now.

Disposable diaper sacks: These are nice if you are on the go and baby does a number 2. They’re similar to the bags you use when you pick up dog poo. If you change baby in the car in the parking lot, for example, you can toss the diaper in a bag to contain the smell. Or if you’re at your parents’ house and don’t want to throw a poopy diaper directly into their trash can.

Postpartum underwear pads: Regular pads work just fine, but sometimes (like at night), it’s nice to have the disposable underwear. I found them to be a little less itchy than the pads you put inside your regular underwear.

Rocker/glider: We don’t get much use out of ours yet, since I nurse baby to sleep in bed with me, but I’m sure it will come in handy when she’s older, plus it was the final touch for our nursery decor. Gliders are much better than rockers in my opinion (the motion is smoother).

Baby book: I have yet to start on it, but I have a scrapbook I’m excited to make for baby’s first year.

Photography props: It’s fun to have a milestone blanket and/or blocks for displaying baby’s age in milestone photos. You also might consider getting an outfit or two for his/her newborn photoshoot, unless your photographer already has something you like. I got a rainbow tutu and a mermaid outfit that are just precious.

WISH I DIDN’T BUY

Wonder Weeks app: It was only $3, but Emelia didn’t follow their timeline whatsoever. It just caused me unnecessary anxiety leading up to a fussy period they said was imminent but never ended up happening.

Postpartum belly/hip wrap: I think I’ve worn it about 2 minutes in my 12 weeks postpartum. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, because I don’t know. I’m just saying wearing it is the last thing that occurred to me while struggling to care for a newborn.

Nursing pads: I never leaked breastmilk. I could have just had my sample packs on hand (sent to me in my registry gift box), and waited to see if I needed more. But instead I bought a box of disposables and a box of reusable pads I’ll never use.

Frida Mom peri bottle: The hospital gave me a peri bottle, so I wasted $16. A lot of moms swear by the Frida, because it has an upside down tip unlike the hospital’s, but I thought the hospital’s worked just fine.

Perineal spray: The hospital sent me home with Dermoplast spray, as well as some soothing witch hazel pads to put in my underwear. I didn’t even open the $10 spray I purchased when I was pregnant.

Swaddles: Emelia hates being swaddled. A lot of babies love it, so I’m not saying don’t get any, but maybe don’t get one of every brand/type like I did. Perhaps wait to see how your baby likes it, or get some second-hand ones to try out first. Or wait to buy them until your due date is close and keep the packaging. I don’t even want to think about how much money I spent on swaddles we’ll never use (and can’t return because I pre-washed them before baby was born).

Short sleeve newborn onesies: I’m glad I have a few, like for stroller walks in the heat, but I regret getting so many of them. Most of your newborn time will likely be inside, and you don’t want a tiny baby sitting around in A/C (if you have it) with nothing covering his/her legs and arms.

Expensive video monitor: I might appreciate this later (TBD), but we don’t use our $150 Smart Beat camera because baby sleeps and naps with us. I had every intention of having baby sleep in her crib early on, but that never happened.

High chair: I’m glad we have one, as I’m sure we’ll get good use out of it, but I wish we had waited. We got ours around 30 weeks pregnant at my baby shower, and baby won’t use it until she’s 6 months, so it’s unnecessarily taking up space for 8 months.

Alcohol breastmilk test strips: I read some articles that say these are unreliable. Apparently orange juice can turn a test strip positive.

Haaka: I’m one of the few women that doesn’t like the Haaka. There’s no way to try it before you buy it, so I’d probably buy one since it works so well for some women, but I’m including this as an item I wasted money on.

Bassinet, bassinet sheets, crib, crib sheets, crib skirt: Emelia won’t sleep anywhere but in our arms or by our side. Hopefully one day soon we can train her to sleep in her crib, but the bassinet was a complete waste.

Stuffed animals: Friends and family will likely buy these for you, so I wouldn’t get any unless there’s something specific you want your baby to have. We have so many I don’t know what to do with them.

Perineal ice packs: I know a lot of women love these, but I never once used mine. Siting with ice in my pants never seemed like a fun idea to me, despite the pain I was in.

Nipple shield: Didn’t work for me, and I’m sure the hospital will give you one if you need it.

Lots of different socks: I have found it nearly impossible to keep tiny baby socks together. They somehow go into the washer and never come out. Or fall off and get lost in the house or car. For this reason, I regret buying so many different patterns. I highly recommend buying several of the same pair, so if you lose one it’s ok (like a bunch of white socks).

Formula: I never bought any formula until we actually needed it, but I’m adding this to the list because I remember wondering about this when I was pregnant. If you can’t or choose not to breastfeed, the hospital will provide formula. And when you see your baby’s pediatrician right after getting home, he/she will provide sample tubs. I even received a lot of samples in the mail I never requested (somehow the formula companies know you’re about to give birth). There’s no telling which formula your baby will like/tolerate, so I wouldn’t spend money on formula until the time comes. I supplemented the first month and went through a trial and error period with finding the right formula.

Shoes: If your baby can’t walk, they don’t need shoes. Unless you just love the look, or find a pair you can’t live without, I wouldn’t buy any until you know what size your baby needs when he/she starts trying to stand/walk for the first time.

Mittens: We never once used our mittens. Scratching just wasn’t a big problem for us and a lot of her jammies had built in mittens (the sleeves fold over the hands).

That’s all I can think of at the moment. If you’re a pregnant mama, congratulations and good luck! ❤

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