15 Must-Have Newborn Items.

By: Jen Shoop

There are a number of Magpie readers expecting their first babies (and a couple of mothers expecting #2, #3 and even #4!) who have reached out with newborn-related inquiries in the past few weeks, and while I can barely remember the newborn days (God’s way of ensuring women are open to having more than one child?), I do handily recall a few products that I leaned on heavily those hazy first few weeks. I think that if you only bought the following items, you would be more or less squared away until the baby is a few months old…

1 // [ED NOTE: I believe the Boppy lounger has been recalled at this point! I think the bigger point is having several places to ‘put baby down’ — rule of thumb being have one ‘baby holder’ in each room!] Dock a Tot or Boppy Lounger. I had the latter (a fraction the cost of the Dock-a-Tot), but the former comes in prettier prints. Whichever you go with, these serve an urgent purpose: they give you an extra space to put down the baby when you are not feeding, burping, or rocking. I love these cushions in particular because they are lightweight and portable — you can plop them down on the couch, on a table, on the floor of a bathroom, etc. — and they work from the day the baby is born (other contraptions like swings/bouncers may not). You can also swaddle them and put them down for naps in these, feed them bottles while propped up in these next to you, etc.

2 // Baby Bjorn Mini. Simply the easiest-to-use carrier I ever tried. I really wanted to be one of those baby-wearing moms, but I never felt like I got the hang of the slings/wraps, and I tried three — I always felt like my babies were falling out of them? I am sure this was user error but the Baby Bjorn mini enabled me to carry Hill around everywhere and partially fulfill my dream of being a baby-wearer. This is SO easy and comfortable to use! I’ve written about this extensively elsewhere, but I feel like so many of the baby carriers try to do too much. Wear to the front! The back! Facing upside down! Doubles as a backpack! Includes a sun visor! Because of this, a lot of carriers are over-engineered and have too many straps and clasps. (Is there anything more alarming than finding your way into one and then ending up with random snaps and straps in your hand? Like, where does this go?) This one has a simpler purpose: it makes carrying a baby under a year a dream.

3 // Ubbi Diaper Pail. Not the area you want to scrimp — these are attractive and contain the smell.

4 // Tubby Todd Ointment. Just the best. Works on anything from baby acne to diaper rush to dry skin. Still buy this in bulk to use on my children!

5 // Kissy Kissy footies. My favorite brand — the sweetest prints, the softest cotton, and they hold up excellently in the wash. Whenever my mom asked me if I needed anything for the babies, I’d ask for more Kissy Kissy footies.

6 // Philips Avent bottles. Some babies prefer certain brands (and their nipples) over others, and so I bought a couple different brands for both children, but these were always everyone’s favorite. They make mixing formula easy because the mouth is wide, and they don’t come with like ten parts (some bottles have so many components). I also like that this brand has nipples with different speeds — you can swap out the “0” or “1” speed for “2, 3, 4” as baby grows and becomes more adept at using the bottle. Interestingly, mini went from 0-speed to 4-speed within a year but Hill has always been happy at speed 2! Philips Avent also comes in 4 oz and 8 oz sizes, but the tops/nipples are interchangeable, which was great. Other popular brands we tried: Comotomo (shape is supposed to mimic mom’s breast better than others — I found this one more likely to leak and easier to knock over on the bedside table, but the babies liked it; on the plus side, it has an extra-wide mouth so it made formula mixing SUPER easy) and LifeFactory (the mouth is super-narrow and difficult to mix formula in, and I found the nipple more difficult for my children to use — it’s a little firmer than others — but it is glass, and I know that some moms prefer that to plastic!)

7 // OXO Weighted Wipes Dispenser — I can’t imagine life without this. (Still.) It enables you to grab just one wipe with one hand. (You tap the top once and it springs open. You grab one wipe, single-handed — not a chain of 34 or a clump stuck together.) An absolute must-have. Anything that enables you to do anything with one hand as a parent is worth it.

8 // Sleep to Dream swaddles — I am a total convert. I used old-fashioned swaddles with mini but these were a godsend because Hill really liked to sleep with his hands up by his face (he was always angrily writhing out of my swaddles!) but these prevented him from waking himself with his own startle reflex. Absolutely brilliant.

9 // 1212 onesies. My favorite. So soft and so thoughtfully-designed — the lap-shoulder opening makes it easy to take on and off baby’s delicate head without any yanking, and there are only two snaps at the crotch! Two, not three!

10 // OXO formula dispenser. If you are using formula or supplementing with it, this will be your best friend. It has obvious uses outside the home, but I found it a Godsend for nighttime, when I’d measure out enough formula in each compartment for all three nighttime feeds, pre-fill bottles with the appropriate amount of water, and have it all lined up on my bedside table.

11 // Monte Ninna Nanna Bassinet. Truthfully, any bassinet would work — I just love the design of this style (I have a slightly older model that is all wood). I did not try the Snoo because I’d invested in the Monte before it was really a thing, but I would be intrigued if I were a new mom! I think you can rent it, which is brilliant especially for urban moms. I’m currently in a situation where I just cannot part ways with the bassinet (I am so irrationally attached to it!) and yet it takes up SO much space in our apartment! I also think the Stokke Sleepi (especially the mini style — perfect for small apartments or if you have twins!) is attractive and can see the appeal of the Halo Bassinest, which more or less becomes like a sidecar off your bed — i.e., a dream for nighttime feeds.

12 // 4Moms Swing. Another heavily, heavily used item in our home. Basically, the more places you have to “put down your baby” (safely) so you can wash the dishes, take a shower, or just glaze over in front of the TV, the better. Both of my babies loved this, but the Baby Bjorn bouncer is another good contender — takes up a little less space and more attractive to look at. Both items are a bit of a risky buy since some babies HATE swings, or HATE bouncers, or HATE both, but I say go for one or the other because when you are exhausted, you will happily pay $200 to attempt to give yourself a break for some stretch of time. Worth the risk.

13 // Bugaboo Stroller. Hot debate between the Bugaboo and Uppababy, but I love our Bugaboo. The point is to find a stroller that meets your needs. Because we live a pedestrian life, we have found the full feature stroller a necessity — like our traveling home base! — and I love how easy-to-use and lightweight this one is compared to other brands. (It also comes with great accessories, including a foot board for Emory to ride on, a snack tray, cupholders, etc.)

14 // Nuna Pipa Carseat. Ultra-safe and one of the lightest-weight on the market (maybe still the lightest weight?), which is important because you WILL find yourself near-dragging it down a street in haste at some point. I also like that this is compatible (with the purchase of adapters) with a lot of other stroller sets, including the Bugaboo and Yoyo, which we also own.

15 // Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs. These and plain-old Gerber cloth diapers were my favorite burp cloths because they are both highly absorbent and ultra-soft. The Burpy bibs earn a slight edge because I like the design — fit around the crook of your neck when burping a baby over your shoulder, but can also be used as a bib for feeding baby from a bottle (it snaps around baby’s neck). Genius.

Three smaller items I loved but that aren’t quite as urgent as the items above — these fleece booties (only ones I found that actually stayed on baby’s foot), Wubbanub pacifiers (cute but have the more important functions of keeping the pacifier in baby’s mouth — harder for them to displace — and being easier to retrieve/find under crib), and Boon drying grass.

If you are having your first, I feel very confident that if you buy the items above, you will be well teed-up for at least the first few months. You can get by without a baby bath (sink works), baby gym/mat (old quilt works), and even a proper changing table (if you are like me, and baby sleeps in your room, you will do most diaper changes at the foot of your bed) until the baby is older! We also used a sound machine with both babies but in retrospect I’m not totally sure it was necessary. (I think it’s important to have babies adjust to the ambient sounds of the house and its inhabitants at some point…!) You can even hold off on the baby monitor until baby is out of your room, if you’re deferring purchases for whatever reason. (We have the Infant Optics one, which has served us well and without many complaints for almost four years now, and you can even add extra cameras onto it — which we did when Hill was younger and we wanted to keep an eye on both babies simultaneously. This Eufy was not out when I bought the I.O. nearly four years ago, but I would probably pick it if I were buying now — it gets even better reviews.)

I am not even touching upon items you need for yourself — breast bump, nipple cream, etc — but will work on that post shortly!

You got this, mama!

P.S. How to build a baby layette.

P.P.S. The lopsided dance of motherhood.

P.P.P.S. To the new mom feeding her baby at 3 a.m.

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18 thoughts on “15 Must-Have Newborn Items.

  1. I had my first baby in September. Before she was born, I had no idea what to dress a newborn in. These bodysuits were perfect since I didn’t have to pull over her head: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00P0ZPNLG/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Another vote for the Snoo. We also bought the Taking Cara Babies class that helped understand sleeping, eating, and awake times that make sense for her as she grew. I already had a sunrise clock and alarm in my room that was helpful to be able to see and nurse in the middle of the night without the jarring overhead light or bedside lamp.

    If you’re a working mom, I just started reading The Fifth Trimester by Lauren Smith Brody. It would have been really helpful before I went back to work – and before we made some last minute childcare changes.

    And I referenced so many magpie posts. Thank you for your beautiful writing over the years!

    1. Ooh, great tip on the kimono style onesies for the itty bittie babies, Kristen! Had forgotten how handy those are. Also help with avoiding the umbilical cord area.

      So interesting on the Snoo! My sister is debating getting one for her third (!) baby and I’ve been slyly nudging her to do it — ha!


  2. My daughter is 3 now, but this post is making me so nostalgic! I still remember how much time I put into researching all of the baby gear.

    Totally agree on the baby carriers that try to do too much — we had the Lillebaby and it is exactly like how you described, I always worried I missed a strap. We maybe used it twice?

    From a practical standpoint … for any expecting mamas reading, if you use the FSA benefit through your employer — I was surprised to see how many mom and baby things are covered! In fact the FSA store website might have a “mom and baby” category to make it easier to browse.

    I think this might be more recent as I don’t remember this being the case when my daughter was a newborn (then again the newborn days are a blur so I can’t fully trust my memory) but Amazon also indicates which products are FSA eligible. You could even enter your FSA debit card as a form of payment for any FSA-eligible monthly subscriptions like diaper cream and such. Makes it so much easier than collecting and uploading receipts for reimbursement. I still continue to do it this way for things like kids sunscreen and other basics.

    I just remember having the mindset of whatever I can automate, I will! Especially in those early postpartum months and even into the first year.

    1. Oo – this is super helpful! Thanks, Mia!

      Yes to the Lillebaby — that’s the first one we tried and I swear I’m still finding straps and pieces of fabric that should have belonged somewhere on it…


  3. Love love love all these items! As a new mama of a no-longer newborn I definitely looked through your old posts for suggestions 🙂 I second the guava lotus for travel (not that we are doing much of it these days!)

    One word of warning for your readers – dock-a-tots and boppies should NEVER be used for unsupervised sleep (especially while swaddled) as there have been so many unfortunate instances where babies have suffocated (lots of cases with the dockatot in particular). The only safe sleeping surface is on baby’s back, on a firm hard surface (bassinet or crib) without anything in it (no blankets etc etc). I have heard of people trying to use dockatot as a “co-sleeping” tool but this is also incredibly dangerous. As a doctor I have seen/heard of some really sad stories that resulted from babies sleeping in them so I really wanted to emphasize that!

  4. I agree with these. Although I never bought a proper diaper pail and just used a simple human (metal, not odor-absorbing plastic) and it worked so well. Also, none of my four kids liked the 4Moms swing! Babies are so particular about swings and they can be a big investment, so I would add the baby Bjorn bouncer instead. I haven’t met a baby who didn’t like it!

  5. 30 weeks pregnant with my third and totally agree with this list!!! This is making me so excited to get everything out again 🙂

    1. Yay!! Congrats, Gina! I remember having a lot of fun unpacking all the footies and bottles and toys for newborn days. So sweet. xx

  6. I’m here to endorse many of these items! We love the Nuna pipa, the only complaint I have is that it’s really hard to move the crotch buckle as baby grows. Although maybe they have fixed this in the 3+ years since we purchased? Regardless, not a big deal as you only have to move it once anyway.

    Thanks for the hot tips on the love to dream swaddle and Tubby Todd! These were both hits the second time around. It’s funny how siblings can have such different preferences as babies! My oldest could escape from everything but the miracle blanket, but her sister escaped from that and, like Hill, wanted her hands near her face. She also liked halo Velcro swaddles.

    I wanted to avoid plastic bottles, and used joovy bottles with baby #1 which were fine, if heavy. However, I bought a few new ones for baby #2 and the bottle parts did NOT play well together even though they were supposedly the same model. They would start leaking profusely in the middle of a feeding! So we switched to comotomo and have been happy, although as you say they can also leak a bit.

    1. So glad you agree on so many of these items!! It is funny to notice the difference between siblings…and even the difference between what is available between each child! I already feel like there are so many new products since Emory was born 3.5 (almost 4) years ago.


  7. This list is great! I have also really love the artipoppe carrier my family gifted me! Very easy to use.
    We rented a Snoo and it is a GAMECHANGER. Not every baby likes it, but luckily ours does.
    On the mom post – tell the mamas to get lots of cute postpartum stuff for themselves. I have a few of those vuori joggers and those Rebecca Minkoff sweatshirts (went up a size) and I have been living in them and feel put together enough for hanging at home. I also got a bunch of Abercrombie (!!!) and gap sweatshirts that are frequently on sale for $20 because there are so many outfit changes and not nearly enough time for laundry some days. With Cecily I didn’t realize this – and looked terrible which sometimes made me feel terrible! Like black leggings with huge pink polo shirts and just not enough clothing items!

    1. Hi Cristina! I so agree on this point — I felt so rough coming home from the hospital with Hill but have to say wearing a new caftan made me feel mildly better…ha! And then I had a couple of new dresses/outfits at home that made the early days feel a bit more put together.

      So envious of the artipoppe carrier! Always wanted one of those…


  8. Ditto to so many of these items! It’s funny how so many baby products sound strange but just work. We are also big fans of Phillips Avent, Zutano booties, wubbanubs and Love to Dream swaddles. One warning, we also have the infant optics monitor and after about 15 mos it stopped holding a charge.

    Some other items I’d add: Ollie swaddle, my husband and I are not great swaddlers and these are great for newborns before they are ready for love to dream, zip up onesies, baby bjorn bouncer and the guava lotus pack and play (a VIP for us, it transitions from bassinet to pack and play, not ugly, easy to fold, and most importantly, our son slept great in it as a newborn in the bassinet and still does when we use it for travel). Another VIP, baby bum diaper cream applicator so simple and cheap but works, avoids covering your hands (and every nearby surface) in diaper cream.

    1. Thanks, Jen — these are great! Agree on the perks of having a good (and attractive) pack and play. We’ve used ours SO much between the two kids in countless different situations (moving, traveling, needing a spot to keep a roaming toddler while work was being done in our apartment, etc.) I just recently learned about the baby bum applicator and feel like it would have been a total MVP!


  9. Thank you for this fabulous post! Currently 34.5 weeks pregnant with my first (a little girl!) and awake in the middle of the night reading it. 🙂

    1. Yay! Congrats, Kristen!! I definitely remember those sleepless nights in the final trimester! Perfect time for researching and ordering all the registry must-haves.


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