20 Essential Items Every New Parent Needs

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You just found out you’re going to be a parent. Congrats! Now comes the fun (and overwhelming) part of getting everything you need before the little one arrives. As a new parent, you’ll quickly realize there are so many essentials that babies require. From strollers to thermometers to burp cloths and more, it can be hard to know what’s an absolute must-have. Well, you’re in luck because we compiled this ultimate list of the top 20 essential items for new parents. These are the products that you’ll get the most use out of during the first few months at home with baby. We’ll cover all the necessities – from feeding to sleeping to diapering and more. Read on for the inside scoop on the new parent must-haves that will make your life easier and help you feel prepared to take the best care of your little bundle of joy.

1. Safe Sleep Space

The most important item is a firm mattress that fits snugly in the crib. Look for a mattress specifically for infants to provide proper support. Never use loose bedding, bumpers or toys in the crib – they pose suffocation hazards.

Keep it Clear

Only place a fitted sheet on the mattress. Don’t use blankets, quilts or loose bedding for the first year. A wearable blanket or sleep sack is best for keeping your baby warm at night in a safe way.

Consider a Pacifier

Pacifiers can help soothe your little one to sleep. Look for orthodontic pacifiers that don’t pose a choking risk. Never attach a pacifier clip or strap to prevent entanglement. Always remove the pacifier once your baby falls asleep to prevent SIDS risks.

With a safe sleeping environment, your newborn will sleep soundly and comfortably. Always follow the ABCs of safe sleep – keep the sleep space Alone, on their Back and in a Crib. A little preparation will give you peace of mind and help your baby develop healthy sleep habits.

2. Car Seat

A car seat is non-negotiable for your newborn. You’ll want an infant carrier that’s easy to install and provides a safe spot for your little one during drives and outings. Look for a model with thick padding, a 5-point harness, and side impact protection. Test different seats in your vehicle to find one that fits well before your due date.

Once baby arrives, have the seat installed and ready to go for your trip home from the hospital. Make sure the straps are snug but still comfortable, and the chest clip is at armpit level. Never place bulky clothing, toys or blankets under the straps. Follow the manual and check for any recalls to keep your baby safe during every car ride.

In just a year, you’ll graduate to a convertible seat with higher weight and height limits. But for now, focus on finding a high-quality infant carrier and learning how to properly secure your precious cargo before hitting the road. Safety is the top priority, so take your time and don’t hesitate to ask the experts at your local baby store for guidance. Your newborn is counting on you!

3. Stroller

A stroller is a essential for getting out and about with your little one. You’ll want one that is lightweight yet sturdy, with lots of storage space for diaper bags, toys, and other gear. An adjustable sunshade and reclining seat will allow your baby to nap on the go. Look for a stroller with a 5-point harness to keep your child secure, as well as locking brakes for when the stroller is stationary.

Some highly-rated options include the UPPAbaby Vista, which can be used from birth and converted to a double stroller, as well as the BOB Revolution Flex, a popular jogging stroller with an ultra-smooth ride. An affordable alternative is the Graco Modes Travel System, which includes a car seat and base. Whichever you choose, be sure to take your stroller for a test roll to ensure it’s easy to fold, maneuver, and meets all of your needs as a new parent on-the-move.

4. Baby Carrier

A baby carrier is essential for new parents. As a new parent, your hands will be full and you’ll want to keep your little one close. A carrier allows you to be hands-free while bonding with your baby during daily activities.

Look for a carrier that is ergonomic, adjustable, and breathable for the comfort of you and your baby. Front carriers, slings, and soft-structured carriers are excellent options for newborns and infants. As your baby grows, a backpack-style carrier is better for longer hikes. Using a baby carrier helps establish closeness, supports development, and gives you flexibility. Your baby will love being close to you, and you’ll have two free hands.

5. Diapers

Diapers are essential for every new parent. You’ll go through thousands in the first couple of years alone. Stock up on diapers in a range of sizes before the baby arrives. Disposable diapers offer convenience, while cloth diapers are better for the environment and your budget. For disposables, leading brands like Pampers and Huggies are highly rated. Store brand diapers can also work great and cost less.

6. Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is essential for new parents to keep an eye on their little one when you can’t be in the room. Look for a monitor with two-way talk so you can soothe your baby with the sound of your voice. A video monitor lets you see your baby in real time so you know exactly what’s going on in there. Some monitors use WiFi to connect while others use a dedicated wireless network for better security. Test the range to ensure you get a strong signal in all areas of your home and yard. Keep the monitor close by when your baby’s sleeping so you can hear them if they cry or make noises during the night. A baby monitor provides peace of mind that your baby’s safe, comfortable and cared for.

7. Nursing/Feeding Supplies

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to bond with your new baby, but it also requires some essential gear. Nursing bras, breast pads, a breast pump, milk storage bags or bottles, and nipple cream will make feeding and pumping more comfortable for you. For bottle-feeding, stock up on bottles, nipples, bottle brushes, sterilizer, and formula. Whether breast or bottle, burp cloths, bibs, and baby towels will come in handy for keeping you both clean during messy feedings. And a baby monitor allows you to see and hear your little one when in another room.

8. Baby Bottle Brush

A baby bottle brush is one of the most useful tools for any new parent. This specialized bottle-cleaning brush allows you to thoroughly clean your baby’s bottles, nipples and caps. As a new parent, you’ll be cleaning multiple bottles a day, so a good bottle brush is essential.

Look for a bottle brush that is specifically designed for baby bottles. It should have a long, narrow head to reach deep into bottles, as well as nubby bristles to scrub away milk residue. For more stubborn messes, you can also find bottle brushes that dispense cleaning solution through the bristles. An angled brush can also help you clean hard to reach areas.

Keeping your baby’s bottles sparkling clean is so important, and a high-quality baby bottle brush will make this chore quick and easy. You’ll use it daily, so invest in a durable brush that will last through many wash cycles. With the right tools, you’ll be rinsing, scrubbing and sanitizing bottles in no time.

9. Baby Carrier/Wrap

A baby carrier or wrap is essential for any new parent. Being able to keep your little one close while still having your hands free makes everyday tasks possible again. Look for a carrier that is adjustable, provides proper back and neck support for your baby, and has extra padding. The most common types are:

  • Soft-structured carriers: Buckle carriers that are easy to get on and off. Brands like ErgoBaby, Tula and Lillebaby are popular.
  • Wraps: Long pieces of fabric you tie around yourself to hold the baby. Wraps like the Moby Wrap or Solly Baby Wrap are very comfortable for newborns.
  • Ring slings: Adjustable pouches you slide over one shoulder. Maya Wrap and Sakura Bloom are reputable brands.

Whichever you choose, a baby carrier will become your new best friend. Your baby will love being snuggled close to your chest, and you’ll love having your hands free again while running errands or doing chores around the house. Every new parent needs a good carrier—it’s a total lifesaver!

10. Swaddling Blankets

Swaddling blankets are essential for keeping your newborn snug and secure. Soft, lightweight blankets specifically designed for swaddling a baby allow you to wrap their arms close to their body, which many newborns find comforting.

Swaddling can help your baby sleep more soundly by preventing their arms from startling them awake. It may also reduce crying. As an added bonus, swaddling blankets often come in cute patterns to keep your newborn looking stylish.

Look for swaddling blankets made of breathable cotton or muslin. The blankets should be large enough to securely wrap your baby, at least 40 inches by 40 inches. Velcro or snap closures make it easy to get a good, snug fit.

For the first few months, swaddling provides comfort. But once your baby starts rolling over, swaddling becomes unsafe and you’ll want to transition them to wearable blankets or sleep sacks. With the right swaddling blankets in your baby essentials kit, you’ll be wrapping your little one up in comfort and cuteness in no time.

11. Baby Bath Tub

A baby bath tub is an essential item for bathing your new little one. Look for a tub with a non-slip interior, padded back support, and handles for easy maneuvering. The tub should securely support the baby in a reclining position. An infant bath tub allows you to bathe your baby while keeping one hand free to wash and support them.

Some recommended options for new parents include:

  • The First Years Infant to Toddler Tub – This tub adjusts to multiple positions as your baby grows. The mesh sling and padded backrest provide extra support for infants.
  • The Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub – This tub features a bum bump to prevent your baby from slipping and a backrest for support. It’s made from foam so it’s lightweight and easy to handle.
  • The Summer Infant Comfort Height Bath – This tub sits higher, so it’s easier on your back. The tub has an adjustable hammock for newborns that can be removed as your baby gets more stable. Non-slip pads and a padded backrest provide extra security.

A baby bath tub should make bathing your little one a fun, bonding experience. Look for a tub that suits your needs and makes the process as easy as possible for new parents. With the right tools, you’ll be giving your baby splashtastic baths in no time!

12. Diaper Bag

A diaper bag is every new parent’s lifeline. Look for a bag with multiple compartments to keep everything organized. You’ll want areas for diapers, wipes, changing pads, bottles or sippy cups, snacks, toys, and a change of clothes for your little one in case of messes or spit-up.

Having a well-stocked diaper bag gives you peace of mind any time you leave the house with your baby. Essentials to include:

  • Diapers in multiple sizes, in case of growth spurts
  • Unscented baby wipes
  • Changing pad
  • Ointment for diaper rash
  • Plastic bags for dirty diapers
  • Pacifier and clips
  • Burp cloths
  • Extra outfits
  • Bottles and formula
  • Teething gel

A diaper bag with padded straps will make it comfortable to carry. Look for one with pockets to keep everything organized and within easy reach. With these essentials on hand in your trusty diaper bag, you’ll be ready for anything when out and about with your new little bundle of joy.

13. Hooded Washcloths And Towels

Hooded washcloths and towels are essential for bathing a newborn. Their extra large size and attached hood keep your baby warm and cozy after a bath. Look for options made of soft, absorbent cotton that is gentle on sensitive skin.

The hooded towels wrap around a newborn, cradling them in softness. The built-in hood protects their delicate head and keeps water from dripping into their face. Burp cloths, washcloths and towels also come in handy for drying off, swaddling, nursing and more. Stock up on a few to make bath time a breeze.

Wash everything before first use and be sure to only use baby detergent that is free from dyes and fragrances which can irritate their skin. Keep a stack on hand so you’re never searching for one in an emergency. Between baths, switch out towels and washcloths to keep them fresh.

New parents will get a lot of use out of these hooded essentials. Their versatility and comfort will make bathing and post-bath snuggles a wonderful shared experience for you and your little one.

14. Baby Nail Kit

Keeping a new baby’s nails trimmed is essential for their comfort and safety. A baby nail kit contains special clippers and files designed for infants. Look for a kit with an emery board or nail file, a pair of baby nail clippers or baby nail scissors, and a magnifying glass. The magnifying glass helps you see tiny nails clearly while the nail clippers and emery board are rounded and sized for little fingers and toes.

Trim your baby’s nails after a bath when they’re soft. Gently massage their hands and feet to relax them. Carefully clip nails straight across with baby clippers or file the nails with an emery board. Be very careful not to cut the sensitive skin around the nails. Go slowly and have someone else hold and soothe the baby if needed. Keep styptic powder on hand in case of any nicks or cuts to help stop minor bleeding quickly.

With regular trimming and care, you’ll get more comfortable and confident in caring for your little one’s nails. A baby nail kit contains all the essential tools you need to properly groom a newborn’s nails.

15. Baby Nasal Aspirator

A nasal aspirator, also known as a nasal bulb syringe, is a must-have for any new parent. This simple device allows you to gently suction out mucus from a baby’s nose to provide relief when congested. Bulb syringes are easy to use – simply place the tip in the nostril, release the bulb to suction, then squeeze and remove. Be very gentle, using short bursts, to avoid irritation. You can also ask your baby’s pediatrician about safe over-the-counter nasal decongestant drops to use in conjunction with the aspirator.

Keeping a baby’s nose clear, especially for newborns who are obligate nose breathers, will ensure your little one can feed, sleep and breathe comfortably. Bulb syringes are very affordable and can be found at most pharmacies and baby stores. They’re also very portable for on-the-go relief. Be sure to get a baby-sized aspirator and sterilize it after each use.

16. Baby Thermometer

A baby thermometer is one of the most important items for any new parent. To monitor your baby’s temperature and check for fevers, a rectal thermometer is typically the most accurate option for infants under 3 months old. Look for a digital thermometer specifically designed for baby rectal use.

Once your baby is 3-6 months old, you can transition to using an ear thermometer. These infrared devices can quickly measure the temperature in the ear canal. For the most precise reading, place the probe snugly into the ear while your baby is lying still. An alternative is a temporal artery thermometer, which scans the forehead to detect the temperature of the temporal artery. These non-invasive options are convenient but may be slightly less accurate.

Whatever method you choose, keep a close eye on your baby’s temperature in those early months. Even a slight fever can be a cause for concern in young infants. Your baby’s doctor can advise you on normal temperature ranges and when to call if you have any worries. Monitoring your baby’s temperature and health diligently will give you peace of mind as a new parent.

17. Baby Bottle Drying Holder

A baby bottle drying rack is essential for any new parent. Rather than taking up counter space by laying out all the bottle parts to air dry, a drying rack contains everything in one vertical space.

Look for a rack that has spots for the bottle, nipples, caps, collars – all the bits and bobs that come with bottle feeding. The ability to drip dry is important, so choose a rack with a raised base and slots that allow air flow around each part. This helps ensure all areas dry completely, reducing the chance of molds or mildews forming before the next use.

Some racks also have dividers to keep each part separate, which is ideal when you have a variety of bottle types and sizes to clean and sterilize. An adjustable rack is versatile and can handle different bottle shapes, from wide neck to narrow, straight to angled. It’s a simple item, but a bottle drying rack is a new parent essential for efficient bottle cleaning and sterilizing.

18. White Noise Machine

A white noise machine is a lifesaver for new parents. The constant background noise it produces helps lull your little one to sleep by blocking out unpredictable sounds that might startle them awake.

Look for a machine that offers different sound options so you can find the right setting for your baby. Ocean waves, rainfall and fan sounds are popular choices. The sounds should be steady and unchanging to be most effective.

Place the white noise machine in your baby’s room, out of reach but within earshot. Turn it on before naptime or bedtime so they can drift off to the soothing sounds. You might even want one for yourself – the ambient noise can help muffle the sounds of a crying baby so you can get some much-needed rest too!

A white noise machine is a simple but genius device that gives the gift of sleep. Every new parent should have one.

19. Diaper Pail/Refills

A diaper pail is essential for managing dirty diapers and keeping odors contained. Choose a model with features like a hands-free lid and compatible refill bags. Some pails work with any brand’s refill bags, while others require specific bag refills. Decide based on convenience and preference.

20. Baby clothes

Having a good supply of baby clothes is essential for new parents. Look for soft, comfortable fabrics that are easy to put on and take off. Essential clothing items include:

  • Onesies: Versatile and comfortable, these can be worn alone or layered.
  • Sleepers: Footed pajamas that keep your baby warm and cozy during naps and nighttime.
  • Socks and Booties: Keep your baby’s feet warm, especially in cooler weather.
  • Hats: Protect your baby’s head from the sun and keep them warm in cooler temperatures.

Choose clothes that are easy to wash and durable, as babies can go through several outfits a day due to spit-ups and diaper leaks. Opt for clothing with snap closures or zippers for quick and easy diaper changes. Having a variety of sizes on hand will also accommodate your baby’s rapid growth in the first few months.

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