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Preparing For The Arrival of Your Baby: Newborn Essentials

I remember when I was pregnant with Madi. I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant and couldn’t wait to start baby shopping! However, upon stepping into a baby store I easily became overwhelmed with all of the options for every single item. Add in the opinions of every friend and family member, it can be very difficult to feel like you are making the right decisions for you and your baby.

Here is a list of a list of items to purchase before your baby arrives, and items that can wait until after the baby is born.   

Getting around

  • Purchase now
    • Car seat: You will not be able to leave the hospital without having nursing staff ensure your infant is safely restrained in a car seat.  Try several different brands in your vehicle to make sure they fit before making your purchase.  If your family has two vehicles, consider two separate bases.  A winter baby will probably need a car seat cover to keep them warm.
    • Stroller: Both you and your partner should try out various brands of strollers to find one that is comfortable for both of you to push.  You may also want to consider adaptors for your car seat to click into a stroller base.
  • Purchase later
    • Baby carrier or baby wrap:  Both you and your partner should be comfortable with wearing the baby.   Try your baby in different carriers or wraps to find what is most comfortable.



  • Purchase now
    • Dresser or change table with change pad: While not necessary (the floor works just as well!), it can save your back not having to lean way over to change your baby’s diaper.  Get 2-3 change pad covers in case of accidents.
    • Diapers: When you see some on sale, pick up a few boxes of newborn size diapers to have on hand.  Or get your supply of cloth diapering ready ahead of time.  
    • Wipes:  I recommend purchasing wipes with no fragrance and few ingredients for baby’s sensitive skin.
    • Diaper cream: A barrier cream is important to protect their sensitive skin from moisture.
    • Diaper pail: A garbage can will do if you don’t want to purchase a dedicated diaper pail.  
    • Diaper bag: Babies need a lot of things with them when you are out and about. Find a bag suitable to hold necessities for changing diapers, clothes, and feeding.


  • Purchase now
    • Nipple cream: Your nipples will be tender and sore quickly if you are a breastfeeding mom.  Have some lanolin or coconut oil on hand.
    • Rocking chair: Again this is not a necessity, but if you have the space for a rocking chair it is a nice addition for spending long hours of nursing and rocking your new baby in. 
    • Nursing bras: If you plan to breastfeed, you might want a bra or two prior to delivery to bring in your hospital bag.
  • Purchase later
    • Bottle sterilizer:  This is not a necessary item unless you use bottles regularly.  You can also sterilize in the dishwasher or on the stovetop.


  • Purchase now
    • Sleepers: Make your life easier in the middle of the night and get sleepers with zippers.  Usually 4-6 sleepers are enough to get you started.
    • Layette sets: 4-6 onesies 
    • Swaddle blankets: Multi-use blankets double as receiving blankets, burp cloths, car seat covers, nursing covers, etc. 
    • Hat, mitts and socks: 2-3 sets of each will be sufficient in the beginning
  • Purchase later
    • Sleep sacks: Most infants are swaddled until they are able to roll over to promote better sleep.  Sleep slacks are a good transition once they can roll from front to back.
    • Baby shoes:  Babies cannot walk, the shoes are strictly for cuteness.


  • Purchase now
    • Body wash, shampoo, lotion: Ensure you purchase an infant product for sensitive skin
    • Face cloths: You can never have enough face cloths!
    • Hooded towel: Infants hate being cold, especially coming out of the bath. 
  • Purchase later
    • Baby bathtub: Many consider this unnecessary depending on their kitchen or bathroom sinks.  These will often suffice for the short time a baby bathtub is used.


  • Purchase (used) or borrow now
    • Bouncy/vibrating chair and baby swing:  Infants are not a one-size-fits-all.  Some love the chairs, and some loathe them.  Before you spend lots of money on a swing with all the bells and whistles, see if you can borrow one from a friend first to see if your infant likes it.
  • Purchase later
    • Exersaucer
    • Play mat

Health and Safety

  • Purchase now
    • Thermometer
    • Infant acetaminophen drops
    • Saline nasal drops and aspirator
    • Nail file and clippers: Infant nails are like little razor blades. No joke. 
    • Formula: Have a small amount of formula on hand for the first few days at home before your milk comes in, just in case.  
  • Purchase later
    • Baby video monitor: If your infant is sleeping in your room with you, you may not need a monitor until you transition her to the nursery.

This post was co-authored by Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP and Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc.

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