Baby essentials list for newborns and first-time parents

Last updated on Jun 22, 2017

I put this baby essentials list for newborns and first-time parents together based on products that have worked well for us and thus we highly recommend.

When you’re expecting your first child, everything is super exciting, including going shopping for your baby. But given the overwhelming amount of baby accessories available, it’s hard to differentiate between essential and unnecessary products. I hope this article will help you to discover the baby essentials you want for your newborn.

Baby essentials vs. Unnecessary products

Every family has different needs and parenting styles. As a result, not all the products below may apply to you. It makes a difference whether you plan to breast- or bottle-feed, or if you want to use disposable vs. cloth diapers.

We breastfed Isabella for the most part but, occasionally, gave her a bottle of expressed milk when Kathy was unavailable. As a result, good bottle-feeding accessories weren’t a top priority for us.

Lucas was breastfed too, but because he was a preemie, it took him a while before he became proficient on the breast. Until he did, he was fed by bottle. As a result, we needed to stock up on bottles, a bottle warmer and cleaning supplies.

Also, your circumstances may change once the baby is born or you may change your mind about those cloth diapers you always wanted to use.

Top baby accessories

This section covers products that apply to nearly all babies and parenting styles.

A good bib

In the beginning, we used cloth bibs because that’s what we knew and were given by friends and family. Naturally, we were washing those bibs a lot. When Isabella turned into a toddler and learned how to use utensils, much of the food ended up on the floor and not in her mouth.

Fortunately, there was a simple solution to that: OXO Tot Roll Up Bib. We have one of those and Isabella uses it every day. It catches most of the food before it hits the floor and can be easily rinsed off after a meal. So we don’t have to put it in the washer. Once Lucas starts eating solids, we’ll get a second one for him. Before we bought the OXO bib, we used a similar product from BabyBjorn, which wasn’t as flexible and thus couldn’t be rolled up for traveling.

OXO Tot Roll Up Bib

Swaddle blankets

If you have read my previous post on the subject, you know that I’m a huge fan of swaddling (if done right). The aden+anais Kids Classic swaddle blankets are of high-quality cotton, and we have successfully used them for both kids.

aden + anais Kids Classic Swaddle 4 Pack

White noise machine

Swaddling and white noise go hand-in-hand, and I have written in-depth about it in this post. A good white noise machine is an excellent investment and will make for a happy (and sleeping) baby.

We have made a good experience with the Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine. It has a real fan built-in, and you can vary the noise pattern by twisting the top cover. The on/off button also doubles as a volume control switch.

Marpac Dohm-DS Dual Speed All-Natural White Noise Sound Machine


Unless you stay at home all day, the chances are that you’ll be using a stroller a lot. A stroller is an investment that’s worth spending some extra money on. We bought a Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic Stroller and are really happy with it. We have taken it on trips all over the world, and it has endured snow, sand, and dirt and still looks like we just bought it yesterday. It is also super flexible and built with high-quality components. The only disadvantage is it’s relatively small storage compartment. I’ll probably write a review just on this stroller soon, so stay tuned.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 Classic+

Stroller or car seat cover

During the first few weeks of life, we kept Isabella and Lucas covered when we were around other people in public. Especially in grocery stores and shopping malls or other crowded places. We found the perfect cover with the Copper Pearl Stretchy Baby Car Seat Canopy which doubles as a nursing cover. It pretty much fits on any car seat or bassinet and can be easily folded and put away when not needed.

Car seat cover canopy and nursing cover

Baby carrier

A baby carrier is a great alternative to a stroller, giving you mobility and flexibility. Lucas had a phase when he didn’t like sleeping in the car seat (attached to the stroller) when we were out and about. But he was perfectly fine sleeping in the BabyBjorn Baby Carrier we bought before Isabella was born. We used the BabyBjorn a lot during a recent visit to Washington, D.C. and can highly recommend it.

BabyBjorn Baby Carrier One

Travel crib

We travel a lot, and so it was important to us to invest in a lightweight, yet solid, travel crib. Before our very first trip to Europe with Isabella, we bought a 4Moms Breeze Playard because we loved how you could fold and unfold it with one hand. While I still think the Breeze is an excellent crib for around the home, it’s hefty and not ideal for traveling.

So we returned it and instead bought a super-light travel crib from BabyBjorn. That crib has been with us around the world in the past couple of years, and it still looks like brand-new.

BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light

Toddler seat

Once your child has outgrown the high chair, you will probably need a booster seat. We were looking for something that we could bring with us on trips if we had to. OXO is one of our favorite baby brands, and we decided to give the OXO Tot Perch Foldable Booster Seat a try. It’s a great choice for at home, yet light and small enough to put it in a suitcase. I have to admit, we haven’t taken it on any trips yet, but it’s been serving us well at home, and Isabella loves it.

OXO Tot Perch Foldable Booster Seat for Big Kids

Miscellaneous baby essentials

  • Waste bags [large roll]: We have a diaper bail but use it mostly for wet diapers. Dirty diapers tend to start smelling very fast, and the best diaper bail won’t prevent the room from starting to smell in only a few days. We put each dirty diaper into a waste bag and throw it into the trash outside.
  • Waste bags [small roll]: While on the go, we use Munchkin Arm and Hammer Diaper Bags and always keep a role in the diaper bag.
  • Vaseline: Instead of getting fancy diaper cream we have found that Vaseline is more than enough to prevent diaper rashes. Just cover the skin with it generously, especially overnight. If your child does get a severe diaper rash, we have made a good experience with Lotrimin Anti-Fungal cream. Talk to your doctor about it before using it.
  • Wipes: We always carry Babyganics Face, Hand & Baby Wipes in the diaper bag to clean the little ones before eating or when they get dirty hands.
  • Wipe dispenser: You’ll be changing many diapers, so do yourself a favor in invest in proper equipment. For example, when pulling a wet wipe from its dispenser, you want the dispenser to stay put. The OXO Wipes Dispenser has a weighted plate, so it stays in place securely while dispensing wipes.

Baby essentials for breastfeeding

This section covers products that are especially useful if you’re breastfeeding.

  • Nursing pads: If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll want to use nursing pads. If not, you’ll be changing shirts a lot. Kathy, my wife, has used Lansinoh Disposable Nursing Pads with both kids and liked them. As much as you can like nursing pads, I guess :)
  • Nursing cover: Kathy has been using the Bebe Au Lait Nursing Cover with both kids. It has a rigid neckline and allows for direct eye contact with the baby.

Baby essentials for bottle-feeding

This section covers products that are especially useful if you are bottle-feeding or supplementing.

  • Breast Pump: If you plan to feed your baby breast milk through a bottle, you want a good pump for expressing the milk. Fortunately, most insurance plans cover the cost of a breast pump. We have made an excellent experience with Medela pumps and can highly recommend them. Kathy had the bulkier version of the Pump in Style Advanced for Isabella and the smaller version for Lucas. We were surprised to learn that our insurance covers one breast pump for every pregnancy, so call your insurance and ask about it.
  • Bottle warmer: Warming up bottles in the middle of the night ain’t fun. So invest in a good bottle warmer that automatically turns off after a set time, so you can’t forget it. We had to bottle-feed Lucas for a few weeks and made a good experience with The First Years Quick Serve Bottle Warmer.
  • Drying rack: With bottle feeding comes washing bottles. A good drying rack, like the Boon Lawn Countertop Drying Rack, makes the process easier.

What we did not need or buy

We didn’t buy a lot of gadgets and tried to keep everything simple. So we didn’t have multiple changing stations around the house or a pack-and-play in every room. In fact, we didn’t see the need for a pack-and-play at all. But we did have a simple swing that would vibrate and play music. Isabella didn’t care much for it, and Lucas only used it during the first few weeks after he came home from the hospital.

Our recommendation is to go with the basics and, if you feel the need for something else, buy it later when the need arises.

What we wish we hadn’t done

The below recommendation isn’t related to any particular product but rather to gender-specific colors and themes. When Isabella was born we bought as much was we could get in pink, including the stroller cover, nursing pillow cover, curtains in her room, etc.

That was a classic beginners mistake. Of course, it looked cute and everything but trust me; you won’t care as much about that with the second child, at least we did not. Instead, we wished that we could re-use some of the items we bought instead of having to buy everything all over again.

So if you’re planning on having more than one child, our recommendation is to buy as many gender-neutral products as possible.

Baby essentials list for newborns and first-time parents

If you are a first-time parent, I hope you discovered some new and useful products that you hadn’t thought or didn’t know about. If there is a product or accessory you think is worth mentioning, please let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email.

Michael Kummer

Atlanta | Austrian | Blogger | Father of a preemie | Paleo fan | Traveler | Amateur photographer | CrossFit
2 Responses to "Baby essentials list for newborns and first-time parents"
  1. Michael, I agree with pretty much everything here, the only thing I felt was missing, (and I don’t know if you guys used this or not), was a travel changing pad. I got the Skip + Hop Pronto changing station and was the single baby product I used the most pretty much every day. I used it with both of my sons on a daily basis for about 4 years, so it was the best investment I made for a baby product :).

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