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Beyond Diapers and Blankets: Unlocking the Stuff Parents Need

mom and dad preparing clothes for baby

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, one of the things I did was research about stuff parents need to prepare for the big day. There was little information from the internet back then. I had to rely on What to Expect books and suggestions from other parents. 

After several trips to the baby store and bags and bags of gifts and hand-me-downs, I thought my baby arsenal was complete. Oh boy, I was wrong. The day I came home from the hospital, I discovered I was still missing a lot of things. So I had to send my husband back to the store. Since he was in a hurry, there wasn’t time to compare prices. His sole mission was to complete the shopping list as quickly as possible. It wasn’t the best move on our part, money-wise. You know how last-minute shopping goes -it never ends well for the wallet. 

Do we really need all this stuff ?

baby things spread on a bed

So there we were, weary-eyed first-time parents surrounded by blankets, burp cloths (who knew this was a thing), onesies, breast shells, and whatnot. They were more than we could handle. When we had baby number two, we realized we were not able to use half of the things we bought for our first child.

So when our third child came along, we already knew what the real essentials were. Knowing what and what not to buy (yes, I’m talking to you diaper disposal system) will make things more manageable. As parents, we need all the help we can get.

So, we’ve scoured the internet, asked fellow parents, and dug deep into our own hits and misses to create this list.

Real Essentials: Stuff Parents Need

Your precious one may be a tiny bundle, but they need a bunch of stuff. So it pays to use this checklist to ensure you have the real essentials before the big day.

a checklist of real essentials for the baby

Diapers and Wipes

Here’s a fact: Your newborn needs a diaper change every two to three hours. So, it’s vital to stock up on diapers and wipes to avoid late night runs to the store. These essentials are one of the first things parents need to load up on.

Sustainable Diapers

cloth diapers lying on brown leaves

In the era of eco-conscious living, sustainable diapers are game-changers. Often made from biodegradable materials or reusable fabrics, they can reduce your carbon footprint and minimize the environmental impact of diaper waste.

When considering sustainable diaper options, keep an eye out for brands that prioritize both the planet and your baby’s comfort. Look for certifications like “Cradle to Cradle” or “OEKO-TEX Standard 100” to ensure the diapers are free from harmful chemicals. 

Wipes for Sensitive Baby Skin

Your baby’s skin deserves the gentlest care. Wipes specifically designed for baby’s skin are a true blessing during those frequent diaper changes. They have no harsh chemicals, fragrances, and alcohol minimizing the risk of irritation for your little one’s bum.

Hypoallergenic and dermatologist approved options with Ingredients like aloe vera and chamomile can work wonders in soothing delicate skin. Additionally, biodegradable wipes made from sustainable materials align with your eco-friendly goals.

The Diaper Cart/Basket

When changing a screaming baby’s diaper, the last thing you need is to rummage through a pile of nappies, creams, and wipes. Organizing these essentials in one place will save you the headache and frustration. Having one nappy basket for every room you and your baby usually stay in is also a great idea. 

Changing Pad

Changing pads are often overlooked yet they are an indispensable part of your baby aresenal. These pads, typically cushioned and waterproof, create a comfortable and hygienic platform for quick diaper changes . Whether placed atop a changing table or secured on any flat surface, they help safeguard against messes and offer a reassuring layer of comfort for your little one.

Clothes and Linen

Do you know one of the things that excited me the most when I discovered I was having a baby girl? It was the prospect of dressing her in cute outfits – the frills, bows, and all the pink!

baby clothes hanging in the closet

Your Newborn’s Basic Wardrobe

A mom can get pretty wild in the baby clothing department. However, babies grow up so fast that her wardrobe can’t keep up. Having three kids taught me that there’s nothing wrong with having a few adorable pieces. But it’s best to stock up on the essentials during the first three months of your child’s life. 

  1. Onesies or Bodysuits (6-8 pieces): These are one-piece outfits that snap or button at the crotch, making diaper changes a breeze.
  2.  Sleepers or Pajamas (4-6 pieces): Comfortable one-piece clothes for bedtime, usually with snaps or zippers for easy access.
  3.  Undershirts or Singlets (4-6 pieces): Soft, sleeveless shirts that go under other clothes to provide an extra layer.
  4.  Socks or Booties (4-6 pairs pairs): Keep those tiny feet warm, especially if your baby isn’t wearing footed onesies.
  5.  Mittens (2-3 pairs): Prevent your newborn from scratching their face with soft mittens.
  6.  Hats (2-3 pieces): A couple of soft, snug-fitting hats to keep your baby’s head warm, especially in cooler weather.
  7.  Swaddle Blankets (2-4 pieces): Large, breathable blankets for swaddling or providing extra warmth.
  8.  Receiving Blankets (4-6 pieces): Versatile blankets for various uses, from covering the baby to laying on surfaces for diaper changes.
  9.  Going-Out Outfit (1-2 pieces): A cute outfit for special occasions or outings, including a top, bottom, and possibly a sweater or jacket.
  10.  Mild Weather Outfit (2-3 sets): Depending on the season, have a couple of outfits suitable for milder weather.

Remember, newborns grow quickly, so having a mix of sizes (newborn and 0-3 months) is a good idea. Additionally, consider the climate in your region to ensure your baby is dressed for the weather. Having a few extra pieces on hand is always helpful, as they may go through multiple outfit changes in a day due to spit-ups or diaper accidents.

Season-Appropriate Clothing

Babies, much like the rest of us, must wear weather-appropriate clothes. Remember the current climate as you peruse the racks of impossibly cute onesies and miniature jackets. It’s tempting to buy them all, I know. But the cold weather may be over soon, and you might be left with a pile of unused tiny coats and cardigans. So, stick with two to three items, and you’re good to go. 

In the heat of summer, lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton are your go-to. These clothes ensure that your baby stays cool and comfortable. For chilly winter days, layering becomes the key – opt for cozy sweaters, hats, and snuggly blankets.

Pro tip: Consider clothing with snap closures or zippers. When it comes to diaper changes, easy access makes life a whole lot simpler for both you and your wriggly bundle of joy.

Swaddle Blankets

My mother-in-law shared a secret with me that I’m passing on to you: swaddle blankets can be a secret weapon for soothing a fussy baby. Being wrapped like an adorable burrito mimics the coziness of the womb, initiating a deep slumber. It also provides a sense of security for your little one.

Look for soft, breathable blankets with ample stretch for a snug fit without restricting movement. Some designs come with Velcro or snaps, making the art of swaddling a breeze, even for the most novice parents. Keep in mind that babies grow quickly, so opt for blankets that are big enough for your little sprout to wiggle comfortably.


When choosing bedding, prioritize safety, comfort, and ease of cleaning. Fitted sheets are a must since they ensure a snug fit around the mattress with no loose fabric that could pose a risk to your little explorer.

Consider investing in waterproof mattress covers to guard against inevitable diaper leaks and spills. Fabrics like cotton or muslin are ideal for your baby’s delicate skin. And when it gets chilly, use a baby blanket or quilt to maintain the ideal sleep temperature.

Formula Feeding Essentials

Formula feeding requires precision and preparation. As you nourish your little one, a few essentials can transform the seemingly complex task into a seamless and enjoyable experience.


baby drinking milk from a bottle

When selecting the perfect bottle for your baby, consider your their feeding habits and your lifestyle. Some babies prefer wide-neck bottles, mimicking the breast, while others easily take to standard bottles.

Materials matter too – glass bottles are durable but heavier, while plastic ones are lightweight but may show wear over time. Opt for bottles with an anti-colic system to minimize air intake during feeding, reducing your child’s risk of tummy troubles. 


Proper hygiene is non-negotiable, especially when it comes to formula feeding. A sterilizer can be your trusty guardian against unwanted germs. Whether you choose an electric sterilizer, microwave sterilizer bags, or the classic boiling method, regularly sterilizing bottles, nipples, and other feeding paraphernalia is essential for your baby’s health.

Bottle Rack

A bottle rack keeps everything within arm’s reach during those hungry moments. Choose one with ample space for drying and organizing multiple bottles simultaneously. Remember, an organized feeding station means less fumbling and more focus on your baby’s needs.

Bottle Cleaner/Brushes

Cleaning bottles can be a daunting task, especially for sleep-deprived parents. A dedicated bottle cleaner or brush can remove formula residue and hidden germs. Purchase brushes with soft bristles that can reach into the feeding bottle’s nooks and crevices.

Formula Storage Solutions

Formula dispensers with compartments for pre-measured servings can be a game-changer during those bleary-eyed nighttime feedings. Do you love going out with your baby? Consider investing in portable containers that fit snugly into your diaper bag.

Nursery Furniture Essentials

Ensuring your little one gets the rest they need is not only crucial for their development but is also a lifeline for any weary parent. The following must-haves can transform bedtime into a tranquil slumber.


crib inside a nursery

Pick a sturdy crib that meets safety standards, with slats close enough to prevent tiny limbs from getting stuck. Adjustable mattress heights are practical since they adapt to your baby’s growth and developmental stages.

Use fitted sheets, mattress protectors, and cozy blankets that are specifically designed for cribs. Remember, less is more – a clutter-free sleeping area is the safest set-up for your precious one.

Sound Machine

We cannot always control bedlam in the house. But here’s some good news: white noise, gentle lullabies, or the rhythmic hum of nature can drown out disturbances and create a serene backdrop for a restful sleep. Look for sound machines with adjustable volume and a variety of sound options. Portable ones are a bonus for travel or daytime naps in different areas of your home. 

Blackout Curtain

Heavy curtains can block natural and artificial light, creating an environment conducive to restful sleep. Blackout liners will be your best bet if you already have existing curtains. 

Soft Bouncer

When caring for a newborn feels overwhelming and sleep is still uncertain, a soft bouncer can be a lifesaver. It offers respite amid your daily routine. This versatile seat gently rocks your baby, offering a soothing motion that they love. Select one with a secure harness, a soft, washable fabric, and a recline feature that ensures your little one is in a safe and relaxed position. 

Health and Safety Essentials

Beyond the joyous cuddles and tender moments, your baby’s health and safety must be one of your priorities.

Baby First Aid Kit

Curate a compact yet comprehensive kit with bandages, antiseptic wipes, a thermometer, and nasal aspirators. This miniature arsenal can address minor bumps, bruises, and sniffles that may pepper your parenting journey.

Remember to familiarize yourself with its content and store where you can quickly grab it. 

Emergency Contact Details

Compile a list that includes family members, healthcare providers, poison control, and neighbors you trust. Display this information prominently in your home, and ensure that key contacts are programmed into your phone for quick access.

In times of uncertainty, having a well-organized support network can be a lifesaver. Share this information with the rest of the household and caregivers, if any. 

Bath Essentials

Bath time can either be a bonding moment or a stressful experience for both the parent and the baby. What will tip the scales toward a fun memory are the right bathing tools and accessories.

Safety Tub

bath tub with thermometer

Pick a tub with a non-slip surface, a contoured design, and a temperature indicator to prevent scalds. Avoid units with rough parts, as they may scratch your little one. An infant-to-toddler tub is a practical choice since you can adjust it as your baby grows.

Hooded Towel

Your baby’s skin deserves towels made from soft, absorbent materials. Give in to your whim and choose one with an adorable hood (perhaps a froggy or a ducky). The hood not only adds tons of cuteness but also keeps your baby warm. 

Baby Washcloth 

Stock up on soft, hypoallergenic washcloths that can pamper rather than irritate. These bathing helpers delicately cleanse every crevice of those chubby arms and legs.

Baby Bath Wash

The market is saturated with so many options for baby bathwash. Your best bet is the one with a gentle, fragrance-free formula that cleanses without stripping natural oils. 

Travel Essentials

Having the right travel essentials can transform your experiences into joyous chapters in your shared story. Let’s explore the necessities that can safely transport your baby to the park, the beach, or to grandma’s house.

Car Seat

Buy a car seat that is compliant with safety standards. Also, make sure that it is suitable for your baby’s age and weight. A practical option would be a convertible car seat that adapts to your baby’s growth.

It’s crucial to install the car seat correctly, following manufacturer guidelines and safety regulations. Familiarize yourself with the adjustments and ensure a snug yet comfortable fit for your little one.


mom pushing a stroller

Choose a stroller that fits your lifestyle – whether it’s a lightweight, easily foldable design for city life or a sturdy, all-terrain model if you’re more of the outdoorsy type. Additionally, consider features like reclining seats, ample storage, and maneuverability.


Toys are crucial in babies’ development. It may seem they’re too young to enjoy them, but they are indispensable tools for growth and discovery. They foster sensory exploration and boost the development of motor skills, cognitive abilities, and emotional well-being.

High-Contrast Soft Books

High-contrast soft books with bold patterns and contrasting colors stimulate a baby’s developing vision. The soft, crinkly pages can be a delightful tactile experience for your little one. You can use these books to encourage exploration, especially during tummy time.

Baby Mobile

baby mobile hanging on top of a crib

The gentle motion of a mobile stimulates their vision and cognition. The best option is one with soft, dangling toys and soothing music to create a serene atmosphere for naptime or bedtime.

Mirror Toys

Mirror toys support your baby’s burgeoning sense of identity. Get shatterproof, baby-safe pieces to place within your child’s line of sight during tummy time or play. Mirrors encourage visual tracking and self-awareness, laying the groundwork for cognitive and social development.

Soft Rattles

The soft rattle is your baby’s first foray into sound and touch. Designs with soft textures and a gentle, soothing sound can catch your baby’s attention without overwhelming their sensitive ears. Since it makes a sound when you shake it, it becomes a subtle introduction to cause and effect.

It’s Time to Prepare the Real Essentials

pregnant woman in nursery

As you prepare for parenthood, refer to our checklist so you have all the stuff parents need to make the journey smoother. Do you have a newbie parent experience to share? Or do you have nursery essentials you swear by? We’re excited to hear your stories and tips.

Let’s build a supportive network as we navigate this extraordinary path together. We welcome you to this incredible adventure, and may your parenting journey be filled with love, laughter, and countless cherished moments!

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Unlocking The Stuff Parents Really Need
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