There are lists for layettes and lists for what you need to bring baby home from the hospital.
Some of the lists are very sparse, while others have you covered for every possibility from sunstroke to a blizzard. Here’s a bare-bones list of things that need to be bought by the time the baby is five days old:
- Car seat – if you have a car or ever plan on taking your child in a car, including a taxi, this is a must-have. Most hospitals will not let you take your baby home without a legal baby seat.
- Diapers – Even if you plan to use cloth diapers, I recommend having some disposables on hand just in case. In any case, it’s important to have a good supply of diapers. Newborns can go through 8 diapers a day easily.
- Wipes. You can use disposable or reusable, but you need some way of cleaning your baby and your hands after a dirty diaper. Using a baby wipe is probably a better way to clean your hands than using an alcohol-based hand sterilizer, because the sterilizer just kills germs; it doesn’t remove particles. Obviously, if possible, the best option is soap and water.
- 3 x Outfit with long sleeves, long pants, and hat. Even on the hottest day of the year, the recommendation is to keep newborns completely covered. Sun exposure at this age is very dangerous.
- 3 x Underclothes, if it’s winter. If it’s summer, one layer is enough if you don’t have the air conditioner on. In general, dress babies one layer warmer than you’d dress yourself. If you’re wearing a t-shirt and shorts, your baby doesn’t need sweatpants. Thin cotton pants are fine.
- Crib, bassinet, playpen, moses basket. You have to have one safe place where you can put the baby. Even if you co-sleep, there needs to be someplace where you can put your baby safely when you go to the bathroom. You could theoretically use a mat on the floor, but I strongly prefer a confined space – it keeps other children, other parents, and dogs out of the baby’s space.
- 5 x Receiving blankets/burp cloths – You need these to burp your child so you won’t get spitup on you. You also use these to swaddle a baby. Not all babies like swaddling, but you’ll only find out if it calms your baby once they’re home from the hospital and you’ve tried it a few times. They can also be used to make a couch into a changing station without risking stains on your couch, and as summer-weight blankets.
- Baby carrier. For newborns, I prefer the wrap type, since they allow you to have the baby in a cradled position. Some people like the ring-slings, but I don’t like having weight distributed unevenly. Even with a 7-lb baby, it starts to hurt after a relatively short time. Baby-wearing experts recommend carriers which don’t have any parts between the baby and the mother (or other baby-wearing adult). For older children, I love the Mai-tai carriers and the ones that are built in a similar style using buckles, such as the Ergo. They can be used as front-packs for smaller children, and as backpacks for older children. We used the backpack method for children up to 40 lbs without too much back-strain. (Check the weight rating on your carrier to make sure it can handle the weight.)
- Stroller. Some people claim they can live without one, but I think it’s really important to take kids outside in air. It’s a lot easier with a stroller. Even at times when I wore my babies a lot, I enjoyed being able to take them off of me when the baby and I got too sweaty.
- A thermometer. I prefer the ear or forehead thermometers. Accuracy isn’t critical, so I’d avoid the rectal thermometer. You only need to know if the baby has a normal temperature, a low-grade fever, or a high fever. For the first month, anything over a low-grade fever generally warrants a trip to the emergency room to rule out meningitis or other serious diseases.