If you’re planning your baby registry or stocking up before the big day, focus your to-buy list on these essentials that will get you through those first weeks. High chairs, toys and even the crib can wait. This is what you’ll really need when baby arrives.
Diaper Changing Pad
A changing table is handy if you have the room, but for outings and travel, a portable diaper changing pad is all you'll need. And as your child gets older, you may prefer the simplicity of changing them on the floor, couch or bed. This one, from Skip Hop, has a wipe-clean, zip-off changing pad and roomy pockets for diapers, wipes, bum cream and hand sanitizer. It also features a zippered front pocket for your phone, keys and wallet. Best of all, it folds up into a sleek clutch you can wear on your wrist, clip to your stroller or toss in a diaper bag.
We love: the Pronto Signature Changing Station, available at skiphop.com.
Hats on babies are not only adorable, they're necessary in certain conditions. A hat will keep baby warm and comfortable in cooler temps and block the sun from their sensitive scalp. As a general rule, put a hat on your baby if you feel the weather is cold. And if your baby looks or feels flushed or appears uncomfortable while wearing a hat, take it off.
We love: MORI hat, available at minimori.com.
Baby Tracking App
Keep track of baby's feeding, sleep and diaper schedule, as well as developmental milestones, immunizations and illnesses, with one of the many awesome apps out there. You'll be able to pick up patterns to help you establish a baby routine that maximizes comfort (yours and baby's), and you can more easily answer any of your pediatrician's questions.
You can start reading to babies the day they're born, and you should! Babies love your voice and find it soothing, and bonding with your babe over a book is a great way for you to get some relaxation amid the stressful, sleepless early days of motherhood. Studies show that regularly reading to your baby builds language comprehension and reading skills too. So visit your library for board books; stock your shelves with classics; or sign up for Literati's baby book club and have age-appropriate books sent to your door.
Baby-Safe Cleaning Products
Tiny babies can make big messes. And when you're a new mom, you want your cleaning products to be safe and toxin-free, but you also want them to be super effective. Truce cleaning products have you covered. We especially love the peppermint-scented all-purpose cleaner, which cuts grease, leaves a streak-free finish and contains only five ingredients (water, isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, organic castile soap and essential oils).
We love: Truce cleaning products, available at truceclean.com.
A stockpile of diapers and wipes is essential for any new parent. Take the guesswork out of when to reorder with a diaper subscription service that brings the goods to you. Perks of ABBY&FINN include a convenient "set it and forget it" approach, mix and match with multiple sizes and designs in the same box, and the ability to select from a range of frequencies. All of their diapers are eco-friendly and toxin-free, and are comparable in price to Pampers subscribe and save.
We love: Abby & Finn, available at abbyandfinn.com.
Wraps are a helpful carrier option in the early months as the fabric keeps babies close and is soft on their skin. Some look tricky to fasten, but if you ask a sales associate or watch a YouTube video, you'll catch on quicker than you think. You can also pick a style (like this one) that makes it as easy as putting on a t-shirt.
We Love: Baby K'tan PRINT baby carrier, available at babyktan.com, $60.
Loose blankets are a safety hazard for the first year of baby's life, but swaddling blankets are a life-saver. Wrap baby like a burrito to keep restless arms and legs from jolting them awake. These are also great as stroller covers, nursing covers, park blankets, and more.
We Love: aden + anais swaddles, available at adenandanais.com.
Infant Car Seat
Top priority: the car seat. You'll need one installed in your car before you leave the hospital with your newborn, so this is one purchase that can't wait. Look for one with a high safety rating. If you plan to buy a stroller from a different brand, check that there's an adaptor for your brand of car seat.
We Love: these top infant car seats.
Diaper Rash Cream
Diaper changes can leave sensitive baby bums irritated, and rashes from wet diapers, certain soaps or baby wipes, or even food intolerances are common. Keep a diaper cream like Triple Paste (a mom favorite!) at the ready to smooth on at the first signs of redness, and you can stop discomfort in its tracks. This ointment is fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, and thick to create a protective barrier on baby's skin. Buy a set of smaller tubes so you can keep one in your diaper bag, another at your changing station and a third at the grandparents' house.
We love: Triple Paste, available at amazon.com, $30 for a 3-pack of 2 oz. tubes.
With multiple nightly wakeup calls, you'll want to keep baby within reach. A bassinet by your bedside keeps baby close enough for you to soothe them quickly, and to peer over to watch them sleep.
We Love: these smart bassinets.
Give your arms a rest during breastfeeding or bottle-feeding with a fit-to-your-body pillow. In later months, baby can use it to practice tummy time and sitting up.
We Love: this list of top nursing pillows.
Your newborn doesn't need a fancy wardrobe at first, as newborns spend most of their time sleeping or snuggling at home. An arsenal of onesies makes dressing your baby quick and easy, and soft cotton in solid colors will match your other baby clothes.
We Love: Primary Organic Babysuit 5-Pack, available at primary.com, $45.
A tub that's designed for newborns makes bathing baby easier in those early months. Choose one that converts to a toddler tub to get maximum use out of it.
We Love: Boon Naked 2-Position Collapsible Baby Bathtub, available at amazon.com, $70.
Bibs aren't just for babies who eat solids. They're handy for bottle-feeding and catching spit-up and drool. Buy them in bulk. You'll be swapping and washing them often!
We Love: Bumkins Super, available at target.com, $13.
Getting out of the house with your baby is a must in the first weeks, not just for your sanity, but also for the little one's doctor's appointments. Arm yourself will a well-organized diaper bag so you're prepared with everything from a fresh onesie to a burp cloth and warm blanket.
We Love: 7 a.m. Enfant Soho Diaper Bag, available at 7amenfant.com, $85.
Video is key for checking in on your baby without disturbing them. Some monitors, like this one, work with an app so you can monitor from your phone when you're away from home. Even grandparents can tune in to watch baby sleep.
We Love: Nanit Pro Camera, available at nanit.com, $299+.
Slow-Flow Baby Bottles
Whether you're feeding your baby formula or pumped milk, look for bottles that mimic the shape of the breast and slow down the flow of liquid to reduce colic, spitting up, burping and gas.
We Love: these innovative baby bottles.
Middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes go a lot smoother with a soft light that doesn't wake up baby or your partner. Better yet, choose an illuminated gadget that doubles as a sound machine. The repetitive sounds of white (static) or pink (rainfall) noise can help soothe your newborn throughout the night.
We Love: Hatch Rest+, available at hatch.co, $90.
Swaddling from scratch isn't for every parent (especially in the middle of the night), and some infants can wiggle out of a swaddle blanket like a mini Houdini. These sacks make it easy on both of you with simple zippers and Velcro. Baby will feel snug, and you'll feel like a superstar swaddler!
We Love: HALO SleepSack Swaddle, available at halosleep.com, $25.
When your baby is crying and you've tried everything from shushing and milk or formula to a diaper change, a pacifier gives baby some comfort. Sticking to orthodontic designs may protect your baby's future teeth, and a one-piece design isn't only safer but also easier to clean.
We Love: Natursutten Orthodontic Rubber Pacifier, available at amazon.com, $12.
–Julie Seguss & Theresa Gonzalez