Having your first baby can be seriously overwhelming. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read — having a whole new life to take care of (and your family/the entire internet overloading you with the millions of products you “need” to buy for your baby immediately) can make your head spin.
So we’re here to simplify the process — and separate the needs from the wants. Here’s our list of the tried-and-true, no-BS products that really do help when you’re starting your new life as a parent. Everything else is just noise (and a ton of plastic).
Whether you are planning to use disposable or cloth diapers, you’ll need plenty. Running out of diapers can be disastrous, particularly at 3 a.m. Do yourself a favor and stock up on various sizes.
The top clothing item for a newborn is the bodysuit (onesie) — a shirt that snaps together between the legs. It stays in place, it’s comfy and it keeps a diaper on. You’ll want to keep a few of these around; Carter’s bodysuits are affordable, thick and cozy.
3. A swaddle blanket or two
Swaddling mimics the gentle squeeze of the womb, so it’s super-comforting, especially to newborns. You’ll likely want two swaddle blankets so when one is in the wash, you have another ready to go. Check out the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets ($55 at Aden + Anais), which are generously sized — perfect for easy swaddling.
You’ll use these dozens of times a day for wiping hands, changing diapers and more.
5. A portable changing pad
Sure, many public bathrooms have changing stations, but we hate to break it to you: many don’t. You’ll likely want portable changing pad like the Pronto Changing Station ($30 at Skip*Hop). That way, wherever you are, a clean diaper awaits. And Pronto even has room for extra diapers and wipes.
6. A great bag
Diapers and wipes aren’t all you need; you’ll likely also have to tote bottles, blankets, outfit changes and even toys along too. A do-it-all bag, such as this one from the Petunia Pickle Bottom line ($189 at Petunia Pickle Bottom), will keep you organized and ready for anything that being on the go brings. Mom hack: If you’re looking to save cash, it doesn’t have to be a diaper-specific bag. Any old backpack will do.
7. A comfy carrier
Much like swaddling, a good baby carrier mimics the womb and keeps Baby cozy — and close to your heart. Plus, it’s just so damn convenient. Check out the popular Maya Wrap, which you can wear in a variety of ways.
8. A solid stroller
All strollers are not created equal. Some have ultra-smooth handling but are beyond bulky when you fold them up. Some are fabulously compact but sheer drudgery to push. If you can, test a few — at the store or among your kind hand-me-downing friends — to see how they work for you. And be sure to try folding the stroller before you commit (both to see if the stroller will fit in your car and to see if it’s easy enough to put away).
9. A mobile
When babies are ultra-small, getting away for even a simple bathroom break can be tough. A mobile can help — either by lulling them to sleep or simply by distracting them long enough that you can pee. The Sweet Island Dreams mobile ($50 at Baby Earth) is a very cute option.
10. Nipple cream
If you’re breastfeeding, you need nipple cream. Because you will want to ward off sore, cracked, chapped nipples. Try Lansinoh ($7 at Target) or any lanolin-based cream.
11. Nursing bras (yes, plural)
If you’re wearing a regular-old underwire bra and try to pop out a boob to breastfeed, it may work for awhile — but it will be pretty uncomfortable. And you’ll ruin the bra pretty quickly. So invest in a few nursing versions — the clipping kind, the stretchy kind or both.
12. A portable crib
If you intend to travel with your little one, you’ll likely want a portable crib/playpen with a bassinet attachment. You can use it at home or on the road, and it’s more cost-effective than a fixed bassinet or cradle.
13. Baby-friendly detergent
If you’ve been using the hardcore scented stuff on your laundry up until now, it’s time to stop. Babies have sensitive skin and need a gentle (unscented or naturally scented) detergent — for their clothes, their cloth diapers, you name it.
14. Burp cloths
And speaking of washing: Babies spit up (and spit up) often. And when you’re burping them, guess where all that stuff goes? Yep, right onto your shoulder. Burp cloths will give that spit-up a non-blouse place to land.
15. Baby soap
Baby baths and baby towels may be more gimmick than necessity (You have a sink, right? And babies do fit in actual towels, yes?), but baby shampoo/soap/lotion is no joke. Don’t try to use your own spa stuff on their sensitive skin; get kiddo her own natural, unscented, preferably organic brand.