Babies need stuff – and lots of it! Use our list of baby product must-haves to stock up on necessities for the newborn period to age 1. You may also want to consider our list of nice-to-have items that can make day-to-day life with your baby a little easier. Photo credit: BabyCenter IN THIS ARTICL
Baby clothes sizes are organized by age, often as newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months. But some brands do things differently, and can vary in their sizing. Look for clothes that also list weight or height guidelines to help you find the best fit. Also, you may want to check out our roundup of the best baby clothing brands.
Some babies go straight to 3 months and never need newborn sizes, but that’s hard to predict in advance, so it doesn’t hurt to have some newborn clothes. Also make sure you have a couple of outfits in the next size up before your child actually needs it – babies grow quickly! Buying secondhand clothes and accepting hand-me-downs are good ways to make sure you’ll always have many size options to choose from.
In general, think comfort and ease. Look for soft, roomy, durable clothing. Choose well-made items that will hold up through frequent washings. Also, avoid clothing that has dangling strings, tassels, and ribbons – these are choking hazards.
Organic baby clothing is made without harsh dyes or potentially harmful chemicals, but it’s usually more expensive. Whatever you choose, use a gentle, baby-friendly laundry detergent to prevent skin irritation. Baby registry: Top 10 must-haves 1:14 minDon’t leave any of these 10 items off your baby registry – trust us!
Below are the clothing basics your baby will need in each size:
- Sleepers (7 to 10): Sleepers are basically baby pajamas that are appropriate for both sleeping and playing. They’re super convenient, because babies nap so frequently. Look for ones that zip down the front and all the way down the leg – they offer easy access for diaper changes.
- Leggings or stretchy pants (5 to 7): Baby leggings make it easy to change one piece of dirty clothing without having to switch the whole outfit. An elastic waistband fits easily over your baby’s diaper and belly – and expands as she gains weight.
- Bodysuits (5 to 7): Bodysuits, also known as onesies, are baby shirts (either short- or long-sleeved) that pull on over your baby’s head and snap under his diaper. The stretchy neckline comes in handy after a diaper blow-out because you can pull the soiled bodysuit down instead of over your child’s head.
- Outer layers (3 to 5): Look for zip-up sweaters, fleece jackets, and sweatshirts that are easy to put on and take off. Fleece jumpsuits are also cozy and warm, and easily slip over everything else. Buy larger sizes and items with loose armholes that won’t require tugging and fussing.
- Hats (2): Choosing the best baby hat depends on the season and weather: A broad-brimmed sun hat for sunny days and a warm hat that covers the ears in the winter should do the trick.
- Socks or booties (5 to 7): Keep baby socks, shoes, and booties on the inexpensive side, since you’ll probably need to replace lost ones more than once.
- Pajamas or nightgowns (5 to 7): No matter how cute it looks, avoid baby sleepwear that has a lot of snaps or is otherwise difficult to get on and off. Some parents prefer nightgowns for newborns; others like the flexibility of being able to switch a damp pair of pj bottoms without changing the top. And others just use sleepers for day and nighttime wear.
Nice-to-have clothing extras
- Special outfits (1 or 2): You may want a dress-up outfit or two for festive occasions, such as a wedding or holiday, or a fun baby costume for Halloween. Many parents also enjoy dressing their child in a special outfit for photo sessions. Since it’s hard to predict what size your baby will be wearing very far in advance, you may want to hold off on purchasing special clothes until the event is closer.
- Shoes: Itty-bitty shoes are adorable, but you may not need to buy real, hard-soled shoes during your baby’s first year. Some experts recommend waiting until your child is a strong walker, because shoes can interfere with development.
- Leg warmers: Super cute with dresses, these add a layer of warmth and don’t have to come off during diaper changes.
- Hair accessories: Totally unnecessary, but so adorable. Even if your baby has little to no hair, a colorful hairband or bow will amp up the cute factor. Make sure the hair accessory isn’t too tight or scratchy, though.
- Diaper covers: If your baby is wearing dresses or goes pants-free in the summer, an attractive cover to wear over diapers adds a nice touch.
- Diapers: Whether you use cloth, disposable, or something in between (like a diaper with a disposable lining and reusable cover), your baby probably will go through 10 to 12 diapers a day at first, so plan accordingly with a stockpile of the best diapers for your family. If you use disposables, you might want to start with small packs of a few different kinds in case certain types irritate your baby’s skin or don’t fit well.
- Diaper pail: A reliable diaper pail will help keep your house smelling sweet. Some brands work for cloth or disposable diapers.
- Baby wipes: Baby wipes are made of polyester, cotton, wood, or rayon fibers and are intended for one-time use. They’re sold in packages with dispensers to make using them more convenient. Unscented wipes can be less irritating to your baby’s skin.
- Diaper rash cream: You’ll also want to keep a good diaper rash cream on hand, either to prevent diaper rash or to handle them when they occur.
- Diaper bag: Get a good-looking diaper bag that’s big enough to tote diapers, wipes, an extra change of clothes for your baby, bottles (if you’re using them), and more. See our complete list of what to pack in your diaper bag.
- Changing table or pad: You’ll be changing a lot of diapers, and a standalone changing table or changing pad can make this a lot more comfortable.
Nice-to-have diapering extras
- Baby wipes warmer: Warm wipes can help ease the surprise of a cold wipe on a bare tushie, especially in the middle of the night.
- Diaper sprayer: This accessory can be a godsend if you’re using cloth diapers. It hooks up to your toilet’s water supply line and allows you to rinse poop from a diaper into the toilet. Be sure that your plumbing can accommodate a sprayer before you buy one.
11 nursery essentials 1:02 minFind out the must-have baby items for your newborn’s nursery.
- Baby carrier: Wearing your baby in a baby carrier, wrap carrier, or baby sling means your little one gets to snuggle close to you, and you’ll have two free hands to do everything else.
- Stroller: You’ll need an easy way to take your baby out and about. Do you want a great everyday stroller? A lightweight stroller that folds up compactly? A double stroller for two little ones close in age? Or maybe a jogging stroller for long walks or jogs with your baby? Choosing the right stroller can make your life a lot easier.
- Car seat: A safe car seat is mandatory, but you can choose from an infant car seat or a convertible car seat for your newborn. A convertible car seat is next, then a booster seat. Tempting as it may be, resist buying a used car seat. Safety regulations have changed over the years, and you need one that meets all current guidelines. Also, you may not know if a secondhand seat has been in an accident and should no longer be used. Learn more about choosing and using a car seat.
- Play yard: A folding travel crib or play yard can come in handy in all sorts of situations. Use it for overnights at Grandma’s or as a safe, contained place for your baby to play at home or while traveling. Some play yards come with a built-in diaper changing table, a removable bassinet, storage space, and other improvements.
Nice-to-have baby gear extras
- Travel system: A travel system includes a stroller, an infant car seat, and a car seat base. You can buy your car seat and stroller separately, but some parents like the convenience of coordinating products.
- Baby backpack: Once your baby can hold her head up well for an extended period – at about 5 or 6 months – you might want to invest in a baby backpack, especially if you’re a hiker or traveler. The high perch lets her see the world, and you can more easily negotiate stairs and stores since your hands are free.
- Stroller sack: If you live in a cold climate, these sleeping-bag-like sacks can help keep your baby warm in a car seat or when you’re out and about with the stroller.
- Stroller rain cover: This clear plastic cover drapes over your stroller and shields your child from wind and rain.
- Baby floor seat: Designed for babies with good head control (usually around 4 months of age), baby floor seats help babies sit up and feature toys to play with. If you need to do chores, you can park your baby in the seat as you bustle around the room.
- Rocking chair or glider: A comfy chair for you to rock your baby comes in handy during all those night wakings and feedings in your baby’s first year. Down the road, it’s a cozy place to snuggle and read bedtime stories.
- Sunshades for the car windows: Shades help to protect your baby’s eyes and skin from the glare of the sun.
- Crib and crib mattress: Many new parents don’t use a full-sized crib right away. But you’ll likely want to move your baby into a crib after she outgrows the bassinet, so it’s helpful to buy one ahead of time and have it set up, with a reliable crib mattress all ready.
- Bassinet: A bassinet is a safe sleeping spot for your baby, and a great way to keep your newborn close during the first months at home. You can set your baby’s bassinet right next to your bed for easier middle-of-the-night feedings, diaper changes, and check-ins.
- Bedding: You’ll see plenty of fancy bedding sets in baby stores, but all you really need are three to five fitted crib sheets. and a couple of washable crib mattress pads. (You’ll want one extra for middle-of-the-night changes.) Some are waterproof. The bumpers, pillows, quilts, and soft blankets that often come with baby bedding sets shouldn’t go in your baby’s crib because they increase the risk of SIDS and accidental suffocation.
- Wearable blankets (2 or 3): These fleece or cotton sleep sacks zip over your baby’s sleepwear and keep him warm at night. They replace traditional blankets, which aren’t safe for sleeping babies because of the risk of SIDS. Some wearable blankets are also designed for swaddling, with flaps that fold over your baby’s arms and secure with Velcro.
- Baby swaddles (5 or 6): Many newborns love to be swaddled, and having a few secure baby swaddles made just for this purpose can make your life much easier. Some swaddling blankets can also double as all-purpose blankets – for covering your baby while you’re breastfeeding, for example.
- Baby monitor: Baby monitors allow you to keep tabs on your baby while you’re in another room or even away from home. You can choose a basic audio model or a more expensive video or wearable monitor. Most monitors use your phone as a viewing unit, but you can also buy monitors with a separate parent unit.
Nice-to-have sleeping extras
- Nightlight: It’s a soothing beacon in a dark room, and it provides just enough light for midnight diaper changes when you want to keep the lighting as dim as possible for your groggy baby.
- Sound machine: Many babies sleep better, and fall asleep more easily, with a sound machine playing white noise or music in the background.
Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
- Nursing or feeding pillow: These pillows are specially designed to support your baby while you’re nursing or bottle-feeding, and they can help you avoid straining your shoulders or neck. Nursing pillows are more convenient – and better at keeping your baby in position – than regular pillows.
- Burp cloths (6 to 12): Lightweight burp cloths catch spit-up and wipe up other baby fluids.
- Bibs (8 to 10): Even before your baby is eating solids, it’s handy to have a reliable bib to keep his clothes dry, especially if he’s a drooler or spitter.
- Nipple cream: Nipple creams and balms can help to relieve sore nipples.
- Nursing bras (2 to 3): Don’t try to make do with your regular bras. Your breasts have changed, so you’ll need a different fit to be comfortable. And nursing bras allow your baby easy access at feeding time.
- Nursing pads: It’s normal for your breasts to leak while you’re nursing, and disposable or reusable nursing pads will keep you and your shirts nice and dry.
- Breast pump: You may want to pump breast milk to feed your baby or relieve engorgement. Breast pumps can be as simple as a basic manual breast pump or as efficient as an double electric pump that allows you to pump from both breasts simultaneously.
- Breast milk bags: You can pump milk straight into a bottle, but many women use specially made plastic breastmilk storage bags, which don’t take up much space in the freezer and can be defrosted easily. The number of bags you’ll need depends on how often you plan to pump. Start with one box and buy more when you need them.
- Nursing cover: If you prefer to be covered while nursing outside the home, a cover slips easily over you and your baby. Some nursing covers even double as an infant car seat cover.
- Bottles (6 to 12): Newborns usually start with 4-ounce baby bottles, but you’ll need some 8-ounce bottles as your child begins to drink more. You’ll also need at least as many nipples as bottles. To learn more, see our article on how to buy bottles and nipples.
- Formula: If you aren’t breastfeeding, you have lots of infant formula options to choose from – check out our guide to the best formula brands and talk to your provider. Stock up with enough formula for a few weeks.
- Bottle brushes (2): These are handy for thoroughly scrubbing small parts and crevices in bottles, bottle parts, and nipples.
- Insulated bottle carrier: You can buy insulated carriers for one bottle or for half a dozen bottles. Use one to keep bottles and/or breast milk warm or cool when you’re on the go.
Nice-to-have bottle- and breastfeeding extras
- Bottle-drying rack: A well-thought-out bottle-drying rack is handy for drying bottles as well as nipples, pacifiers, teethers, and sippy cups.
- Dishwasher basket: These are handy for keeping track of small items (like bottle parts) in the dishwasher.
- Bottle sterilizer: You can soak bottles (and other supplies) in boiling water to disinfect them, but some parents find a baby bottle sterilizer – which uses steam or UV light to disinfect – handy. Some are electric and some you pop in the microwave.
- Bottle warmer: You can use a bowl full of warm water to heat bottles of breast milk or formula, but a bottle warmer is more convenient.
- Warm or cold gel packs (3 to 4): These fit inside your bra and can soothe swollen or sore breasts. When you need to take breast milk or formula to-go, tuck the cold packs into an insulated bag.
When your baby is ready for solid food, somewhere between 4 and 6 months of age, these feeding supplies can make the transition easier.
- Highchair: You can buy a freestanding highchair, a seat that hooks onto a counter or table, or a portable highchair or booster that attaches to a regular chair. But a full-size highchair with a tray is easy to clean, and wheels make moving the chair around easy. Look for a model with a seat cover that you can remove and clean, because you can count on food getting mushed into every crack.
- Bowls (2 to 3): Some parents like baby bowls with suction cups on the bottom that stick to the highchair tray (so they can’t be flung to the floor easily). Suction or no suction, make sure they’re unbreakable.
- Baby spoons (3 to 5): A rubber-tipped or plastic spoon is easier on your baby’s gums and small enough to fit comfortably into a little mouth.
- Sippy cups (3 to 5): These training cups come with a lid and a spout for easy drinking – and they don’t spill when knocked over. Cups with handles will probably be easiest for your child to manage at first.
- Waterproof bibs (5 to 10): Quick-drying bibs are useful, as are bibs with a pocket at the bottom to catch falling food.
Nice-to-have extras for feeding solids
- Mess mat: Place one under the highchair to protect your flooring and make cleanup easier.
- Baby food maker: For making your own baby food.
- Baby bathtub: A good baby bathtub will make bathing your baby much easier. Many are designed to grow with your baby from the newborn period to age 1.
- Soap and shampoo: Look for no-tears baby wash and shampoo formulas that are easier on your baby’s skin and eyes. Choose brands that don’t list “fragrance” as an ingredient if you want to avoid phthalates in your baby’s shampoo or soap.
- Infant bath towels (2 to 3): A soft, hooded infant towel works well for wrapping up your baby and drying him after his bath.
- Washcloths (4 to 6): You can always find uses for baby washcloths. If you also use washcloths for diaper changes, designate one color for those so you can keep them separate.
Nice-to-have bathing extras
- Bath thermometer: This isn’t necessary if you’re comfortable testing bath water with your wrist, but if you’re unsure, a thermometer might be worth investing in.
- Bath toys: Toys that float and engage your child in water play as she gets older can make bath time even more fun.
Baby soothers, toys, and entertainment
- Pacifiers (3 to 5): Some babies love them, some don’t. Baby pacifiers aren’t a necessity by any means, but for some parents and babies soothers are essential.
- Bouncer seat: These baby seats bounce up and down when your little one kicks or moves. It’s a handy, safe place to put your baby down (thanks to the attached straps), and many babies love the motion.
- Toys: Your baby doesn’t need a lot of fancy playthings, but it’s nice to have a few rattles, musical toys, and soft toys.
- Books: Chunky board books are a fine way to introduce reading to your baby. Washable cloth or vinyl books are a good bet, too.
Nice-to-have baby entertainment extras
- Mobile: A brightly colored mobile is great entertainment for a newborn. Some play music and have a nightlight, too. Remove the mobile once your baby is 5 months old or can get on hands and knees, so he doesn’t pull it down and hurt himself.
- Baby swing: Another favorite for babies who love to be moving, freestanding baby swings provide rhythmic motion. Some are electric, some battery-powered, some have head-to-toe swinging, and others rock side to side.
- Play mat: These are soft mats with baby toys that dangle from overhead. Babies who aren’t mobile yet can have a ball batting at the toys. Fancy play mats feature lights and sounds.
- Activity center: Baby activity centers keep older babies propped up safely in one place while they grab and manipulate various attached toys. Some convert to keep your baby’s interest as they grow.
- Toy box or storage baskets: A box will keep toys out of sight when put away, but be sure it doesn’t have a lid that will slam on little fingers once your baby gets old enough to retrieve her own toys. Baskets allow for easy pickup. You might put one in each room your baby plays in.
As soon as your child is rolling, crawling, or toddling around, you’ll need to be aware of the biggest household dangers so you can childproof your home.
A few pieces of safety equipment can help protect your baby from many common hazards:
- Safety gates: If you have stairs, invest in safety gates for the top and bottom. You can also use a gate to block off areas of the house that might be perilous, such as the bathroom or kitchen.
- Outlet covers: Exposed outlets are an almost irresistible attraction to curious explorers. Bottom line: Keep them covered.
- Cupboard and drawer latches: Choose from several types, including ones that latch or twist open and closed. Tug at them to make sure they can withstand numerous tries by a determined toddler.
- Toilet seat locks: Babies can drown in as little as 2 inches of water, so keep your baby and his toys out of the toilet with a lock. The lock fastens on top of a closed seat and requires you to press a button or undo a latch to open it.
- Anti-tip straps and wall anchors: These will keep your baby from pulling the television and furniture over, once she’s toddling around the house.
- First-aid kit: A baby first-aid kit contains helpful health and safety items that you’ll need if your baby is sick or injured, such as a thermometer, antiseptic ointment, and bandages. Many also include baby grooming tools like nail clippers and a hair brush.
- Nasal aspirator: You can combine a nasal aspirator with saline drops to clear your baby’s stuffy nose.
- Teething toys: Chewing on a ring made of firm rubber can ease your baby’s discomfort during teething.
- Humidifier: Running a humidifier in your baby’s room can help ease congestion. Because it adds moisture to the air, it can also help with dry, chapped skin. Be sure to clean the machine often so you don’t introduce mold into the air.
- Baby nail scissors, clippers, nail file, or emery board: These help you trim and smooth your baby’s nails safely.
- Baby-friendly laundry detergent: Some brands are specially formulated to be gentle on baby skin, although brands for sensitive skin are fine too.
- Soft-bristled baby hair brush: This is especially helpful for handling cradle cap.
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