One list of everything a new mom might need for both mama and baby, including maternity and postpartum. Thus I’m calling it the Ultimate New Mom and Baby Checklist. Asterisks mark my very favorite items. Some items are optional but nice to have.
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This first section goes over the items that you will want to have on hand, new mom, for both maternity and postpartum. Don’t skip this section, trust me! You are just as important as baby.
New Mom Maternity Gear Checklist
Belly Cream. I used this Palmers belly butter as soon as I started to expand, and I ended up with absolutely no stretch marks. I can’t promise that it will 100% stave off stretch marks for all mamas, but it did for me (and lots of others too—the reviews speak for themselves.)
*Maternity Undies. Trust me, you will all of a sudden realize you need these about halfway through your pregnancy, so go ahead and buy them up front! Regular underwear tended to hit the wrong spot all of a sudden and slip or sag, ugh! I recommend the ones that are cut lower in the front like these rather than the high ones. These are very comfy! And you can still wear them afterwards too!
I shopped at Ross for affordable Maternity clothes. They didn’t have everything I needed, but did have a ton of maternity leggings, tees, and sweatshirts, which was great! Maternity stores can be expensive! Or check out Poshmark or Mercari and buy a bundle of nice ones from someone slightly used.
*Pregnancy Pillow. These awesome pillows can be used when you’re not pregnant too and are so comfy either way! You really will need the support under your belly once it starts growing as well as the part supporting your back. (Side sleep is best for you and baby while pregnant anyway.) I still use this pillow long after my pregnancy!
Shoes. Buy a pair or two of shoes for the season it will be toward the end of your pregnancy in a size up. Your feel will swell. I couldn’t wear most any of my normal shoes in months 8 and 9.
Delivery and Postpartum Checklist
Pads. No matter how you deliver, you will bleed a good bit in the weeks after like a heavy period as your uterus shrinks back down. Have high-absorbency pads like overnights on hand. Panty-liners definitely will NOT cut it at first, though you might want some of those too for when your bleeding tapers down.
Painkillers. You can take ibuprofen again or Tylenol after delivery. You may need something daily for the first couple weeks as you recover, and even if you have a narcotic prescribed they will likely ask you to alternate between an OTC and the narcotic.
Sitz Bath Ingredients. If you deliver vaginally, a sitz bath will be really nice during recovery. Have some Epsom salt and witch hazel on hand to mix one up—look this up if you are not familiar as you need to be careful how much water you use and how hot your water is.
Soft, Loose Pants. Something that doesn’t dig. If you end up needing a C-section (which can happen even if you plan a vaginal delivery—it did for me) you will definitely want something that does not put any pressure on your lower abdomen at all. There will be a period after a couple weeks where you won’t really fit your maternity things anymore, but you will still probably be a bit too big for your “normal” clothes. Have some comfy leggings and tees on hand!
*Stool Softener. Your first poo after delivery—whether vaginal or C-section–will be kind of scary. You might feel like everything’s going to fall out of you—yikes! (It won’t though.) Stool softeners don’t make you go, they just make it easier—and trust me, you want this! You do not want to be straining and scared!
If you take any narcotic painkillers after delivery, they will slow down your system and can make you constipated. Go ahead and proactively take stool softeners in this case—you won’t regret it.
Here are the items you will need to have on hand for your little one.
Nursing & Feeding Checklist
As a new mom, for the first week or two you may not produce enough breastmilk quite yet. You may want to prepare your budget to buy some donor milk. You can do this through the hospital. Research shows that breastmilk is best for babies. But sometimes women have to use formula, and that’s okay! Even if you are going to use formula eventually, breastmilk is definitely best for the first few weeks rather going straight to formula. Budget a couple hundred dollars for enough to get you through until your supply picks up.
*Baby Brezza Formula Pro Advanced (optional). We needed to supplement with formula from about 1.5 months on since my milk supply would not keep up. If you find you need to do this (or just want to) the Baby Brezza is great. It is like a Keurig for formula! Keep the formula powder in the top and just tell it how much to make and how warm you want it. Note: for the first months, you want to use boiled water. You can easily boil water on the stove first, let it cool, then use that water to fill the machine so that you don’t have to buy purified water. Some reviewers complain that the Brezza needs to be cleaned often (it prompts a cleaning every fourth use) but I don’t find it difficult to clean at all! It is very quick to take the nozzle out, wipe it, and put it back on. You don’t have to take the stored formula out of the top or anything cumbersome like that. Every month or so you should clean the inside by running a vinegar/water mixture through it. But that is also easy.
Bottle/Milk Storage System. I liked the Tommee Tippee Pump and Go Set. This system uses milk storage bags and has an adapter that lets it hook them to your pump so you can pump straight into the bags. Then you can label, freeze them, store them, warm and use them right away, whatever you want! Each bag snaps into this half-bottle piece that makes it easy to feed baby straight from the bag so you never have to pour milk into anything else. If you prefer to use regular bottles, their bottles are great too. Good brand!
Bottle Warmer. Unless you choose to boil water and sit the bottle inside to warm it—which is fine!—a bottle warmer is essential. Warming milk in the microwave is not recommended since it can create “hot spots” that can burn your baby’s mouth even if the bottle doesn’t feel too hot. We got a Tommee Tippee brand warmer and I also know some of the Tommee sets come with one depending on which set you buy.
Breast Pump. You may want to have a breast pump even if you plan on mostly breastfeeding because it just isn’t always possible to breastfeed, plus you may produce more milk than baby needs at the very first. I used a Medela pump which works great. Insurance will usually cover the cost! You can pump into the containers that come with it and then pour it into something else, or hook it up to various storage systems.
You can use a clear fridge organizer in a long rectangle shape to keep in the freezer and hold your milk storage bags!
Baby Utensils, Plates, and Cups. I love these silicone bowls with suction bottoms. They work great for the first stage of purees. Baby can’t tip them over and send pureed carrot everywhere! I love these silicone divided plates for stage two solids. Perfect! As for utensils, I found that (again) I really prefer silicone to the harder baby spoons. Sometimes those baby lips need a little coaxing open and the soft, bendy spoons were so easy to do that with.
Bibs. I love the polyester ones like these that you can just rinse off after use!
Burp Cloths. Have a good size stack of these so you can wash regularly without running out. I recommend having 10 or so.
Bottle Brush. I like this Munchkin brush set since it has a small piece inside for cleaning nipples, and it comes with an extra brush head.
Bottle Drying Rack. We like this Boon “Lawn” Drying Rack that looks like grass best (and we had a few types that we tried.) You can get away with not having a specific bottle drying rack, but it certainly makes it easier to hold all the little pieces you will have, especially if you use a breast pump, because you have to wash all the little cups and flappy pieces of it!
Nursing Pillow. Boppy is classic and good for either breast or bottle feeding. But to me, My Brest Friend Pillow is actually better for breastfeeding though, since you can tighten it around yourself. I found it more comfy than the Boppy. But Boppy can be used, and it can also be used later to prop for tummy time, and to help baby to sit up.
Nursing Pillow Cover.
Nipple Balm. At first breastfeeding will probably be a bit uncomfy, so have a jar of this handy. (It goes a long way, so you probably only need one even though it’s tiny.)
Mesh Feeder. I love this invention! Baby can num away at fresh fruits or cooked veggies without any fear of choking. I used these Munchkin mesh feeders but there are also silicone varieties.
Baby Food Storage System. This is if you plan to make your own baby food. You’ll need something to store it in, whether you go the make-and-freeze route or store in jars. This doesn’t start til month 4 at earliest though. If you do an ice tray and freeze portions, make sure to get a tray with a lid like this one so it stays fresh and clean in the freezer.
Diapers. Consider cloth diapers. I have several posts about cloth diapers, check out the cloth diapering section of my menu!
However, before I switched to cloth diapers, I used disposables, and we found we are not brand snobs. I liked Huggies for the stretch band waist, and they just feel pretty nice, but Pampers are just fine too! My top pick for disposables, though, is Target’s Up & Up brand. They were a great blend of affordable and good quality. The only ones that I truly did not like were Luvs. Luvs are inexpensive but to me they felt flimsy and weird. But on the flip-side, I found that more expensive, organic diapers were often really cute, but didn’t work any better than the others…and cost lots more.
You do not want many newborn size diapers because that stage doesn’t last long at all, and they will be in a size 1 before you know it.
Wipes. Again, if you go for cloth diapers, you may want to use reusable wipes too! See my post Everything you Need to Start Cloth Diapering for how to DIY cloth wipes. As for regular wipes, we like several brands. You will use a lot, one for each pee diaper and maybe up to 4 or 5 for each poo—cause mama, some days the poos are good and some days the poos are bad—so register for large boxes full of refill packs. If you are also using a wipe warmer, make sure to get refill packs versus packs with the pop top, since those cost more and you’ll just remove them to put in your warmer anyway.
Wipes Warmer. Optional but I recommend. They are just nice and most have a little nightlight built in so you can have a soft glow to see by on your changing table at night. Prince Lionheart is a very highly rated brand and is the one we own.
Find a cute little cup to keep nearby your warmer since you will need to add water to the bottom of the warmer about once a week. The cup will make it easy to run to the nearest sink, plus seeing it may remind you to check the water.
Diaper Rash Cream. Butt Paste brand is good, but thankfully I rarely ever had to use any since mine didn’t have diaper rash. (YAY!) Burt’s Bees also makes a diaper cream and I love their stuff all around.
If you use cloth diapers, use a cream especially for them. Typical diaper creams can leave residue on cloth diapers. GroVia makes cloth diapers and their special diaper cream stick has high reviews!
Diaper Bag. I recommend the trendy backpack style, but not just because it’s trendy! That’s one less thing to hang off your shoulder, plus dad can carry it too without complaining that it looks too feminine :)- Kudos to men who don’t even care!
Baby Bath & Personal Care Checklist
Baby Towels/Washcloths. These aren’t a necessity, but towels specifically for babies are nice since they usually have a hood for those little bald heads. Baby washcloths are just smaller, which I didn’t find helpful, and softer, which is nice. But you can certainly use a soft “adult” washcloth.
Bath Toy Holder.
Gas Drops. There are plenty of brands of this but we bought Equate brand from Walmart. They are for infants and help with the gas pains teeny ones have as their digestive systems develop. Have a bottle on hand just in case. It is cheap and if you need it, you want it fast. If you don’t end up needing, no biggie, it’s only a few bucks.
*Gripe Water. This is a supplement of ginger and other herbs in liquid form that settles babies’ tummies. You can give it to them after each feeding or up to 12 times a day for gas, hiccups, anything like that. Momma’s Bliss is a popular brand but I found out Walmart actually has a generic version that is much less in their “Parent’s Choice” brand. You might have to order online versus in store for this.
I suggest buying one bottle of Momma’s Bliss and KEEP THE TAB THINGY that goes in the top once its empty! It’s nice because with the spill-proof tab, you can tip it over and easily get the liquid into the syringe. The Parent’s Choice brand does not have this cool piece, but the Momma’s Bliss top fits in it! So cheat and buy the cheaper brand after that and keep reusing the lid part (hee hee!). I suggest 2-3 bottles to have in stock in your nursery to start off. We used it all through the day even sometimes just as a soother or distraction to help her calm down when fussing.
Infant Bathtub. I loved this Skip Hop Moby bathtub with a removable infant sling.
Infant Personal Care Kit. Most everyone gets one of these kits at their shower with nail clippers & file, a comb, etc. Make sure you have a rectal thermometer since this is what the doctors will tell you to use. And PS: a forehead one is inaccurate until they are 6 months old or more. I found one at CVS that has a rectal, ear, and oral tips that pop off and are interchangeable, and it comes with a nifty compartmentalized storage bag so each tip stays separate. I love it!
Use Coconut oil or Vaseline to lube the tip of the rectal thermometer before use, and have a diaper under them in case it causes them to poo! It probably won’t but people say it sometimes does. And know that using a rectal thermometer is not nearly as scary as it sounds.
Infant Tylenol. For any fever etc. They can’t have Motrin or other ibuprofen-based meds until 6 months old, so make sure you have infant Tylenol on hand for the first months. At 2 months, your babe will get immunization shots, so make sure to have it on hand by that doctor’s visit because they may need if afterwards for fever/fussiness.
New Mom Nursery Checklist
Baby Hangers. Try Ross or TJ Maxx baby sections for bundles of the cute velvet covered kind.
Baskets or other Closet Organizer System. Keep in mind that baby stuff is small and you may want bins/baskets/cubbies for things like nursing pads, socks, balms, burp cloths, swaddler blankets, etc. This is the FUN PART!
Bassinet or Cosleeper. Disclaimer: We went against the current recommendation and did not use a bassinet at our bedside. I put my baby in her own crib in her own nursery, fully monitored, from night one. But since the AAP recommends your baby sleeping in the same room as the parent you may want to do a bassinet. I can’t provide any specific recommendation on this though since I didn’t use one.
*Blackout Curtains. Get good ones that actually block tons of light out and hang flush to your wall so there are no cracks of light coming in the sides. You want it very dark to help them sleep while they’re little. If you still have trouble with light coming in through the sides, get some of black paper (yes, paper) shades to go behind your curtains. Black paper shades are a little-known wonder! They are dirt cheap and block so much light. Plus they are super easy to install. With these plus blackout curtains, you can actually get your nursery cave-dark.
Bookshelf or other Book Holding System. Because BOOKS!
Changing Table. I suggest a dresser with a changing table top that is removable. No need buying just a changing table when you can buy a two-fer piece instead. We found an awesome deal for a dresser with a transition changing table top on Craigslist!
Crib. There are so many to choose from it can be overwhelming. I suggest one that transitions to a toddler bed later because that will come before you know it! Read more about choosing a crib to fit your needs here! I chose the Babyletto Modo 3-in-1 crib and I love it.
Crib Mattress Protector (waterproof).
Diaper Pail. I highly suggest Dekor brand. Dekor brands works with an endless bag system that’s really cool and fast to change for disposables, and has wonderful bags if you are using it for reusable diapers as well!
Mobile. This isn’t a necessity, but most mamas want one for decorative reasons. I really enjoyed making my own from a big oversized metal craft ring wrapped in cotton twill thread, with rows of beads hanging down all around. I tied strings to meet in the center, then another string to hang it from. It was a super fun thing to do while pregnant and in the nesting phase. I chose varied “natural” wood colored beads, but dyed wooden beads would be so pretty too!
Nightlight(s). If you use a wipes warmer, the nightlight on it may be enough.
Rocker or Glider.
*Sound Machine. This was a necessity for us since we live only a couple blocks from train tracks. We kept white noise on at all time in the nursery to block out train or other ambient noises that might startle her. Absolutely recommend!! All you really need is white noise, but many machines have other sounds too like rain or peaceful music. We found one from Sharper Image that makes lots of sounds at a Goodwill.
For car naps, find a radio station that doesn’t come in and play the static, turned up loud. Ta-dah! White noise! That calmed mine down when she was fussing in the car!
Swaddling & Receiving Blankets.
Video Monitor with night vision. I prefer one that doesn’t need wifi and one that doesn’t feed to my phone but to it’s own screen. We bought this affordable widescreen one on Amazon and it works great!
Baby Clothes Checklist
Many baby clothes are SO cute but totally impractical. I ended up just feeling sad about cute things that she never got to wear. You want clothes that you can get on and off easily for diaper changes. No rompers or other one-pieces without snaps for easy access no matter how adorable! Also, consider buying some of them secondhand. They are used for a very short a time, so many secondhand baby clothes are in great shape, because they were barely worn. Yard sales are the best for baby items! Lots of baby clothes barely get used or even still have tags, so you can get a great deal secondhand.
See my post comparing baby clothes sizes by brand!
Onsies. (5-8.) These are great to have quite a few on hand. Get short sleeve and long if your teeny one will be born in winter. We put ours to sleep in these under her swaddler as a newborn. They are also easy to put pants or shorts on over, and boom—outfit! Then just pull the pants off and swaddle for a nap or bedtime if you want! I’d recommend having a minimum of 5-8 of each short and long sleeve in newborn, 3 mo, and 6 month to start out with. You want to account for occasionally needing to change one midway during the day.
Preemie outfit. (1.) I liked the tip to have one preemie outfit (they suggested a simple sleeper) to keep in your prepped baby go-bag just in case you delivery early. (This is probably more for first-time mamas who want to be uber-prepared.) Keep the tags on it so you can easily return it if you don’t need it.
Shirts/bottoms. (6-8.) How many you want depends on how often you want to use onesies as your “tops” or you want to dress baby in separates. I’d say have at least 6-8 of both in sizes newborn, 3 mo, and 6 month to start out. Mine was fitting 3 month size at 2 months and I think this is pretty normal that sizes run smaller than actual babies.
Shoes. (Very few.) As cute as they are, the sad truth is that you just don’t need them for a newborn. I “knew that”… but intended to use them anyway. I was going to be the one mom whose baby was impeccably dressed down to her tiny Mary Janes. But honestly, it’s so impractical since they sleep so much to put shoes on and off for no reason. Don’t be tempted to buy many tiny ones at all. Maybe one or two for special pictures is all you will realistically use. Then, as they get more towards walking age, you can start to have fun shoe shopping!
Sleepers. (2-3.) We found that we really don’t use footed sleepers as much as we imagined for our newborn because they were too warm once she was swaddled. Darn. They are so cute. We used them for a while but ended up with way too many of them, sadly. We instead prefer short sleeve or long-sleeve onesies to sleep in. Gown-style sleepers are good options too (boy or girl) and very easy for diaper changes in the night!
Sleep Sacks. (2-3.) After your baby outgrows true swaddling, probably by 3 months or so, they are still too small for a blanket, so you can put them to bed in a “wearable blanket”, aka sleep sack. Halo makes both a swaddler and a sleep sack so you can stick with that brand for both. I also really like the Nested Bean weighted sleep sacks. The little pad of weight on the chest (or it can be worn so that is on the back) works to calm baby down and mimics the feeling of mama’s hand laying on them.
Socks. (6-8.) Have several pairs since they are tiny and get lost easily. You will likely want socks on your baby often even when you don’t have shoes on them.
*Swaddlers. (4-5.) Get several of these! I suggest 4 or 5 so you can wash them easily and grab another. Ours were all secondhand and they gave us a free new one at the hospital too. Halo Sleep Sack brand swaddlers help so much to calm baby down. They may fuss for a minute while getting wrapped, but they end up being comforted by it once they are in it and laid down for a minute. Don’t bother getting the “winter” fluffy ones. They will get too hot! Get several lightweight ones.
Baby Gear Checklist
Baby Gate. You may need one or more, depending on your house. You want to think about where baby will be hanging out a lot, and consider if you have stairs or rooms you don’t want baby to enter.
Baby Swing or Rocker We love the 4 Moms Mamaroo. This is a high-tech rocker! If budget is an important factor for you, consider buying one used. I found mine at a thrift shop for $12…but that was a totally amazing fluke. You’ll have better luck on Craigslist etc. Note for the first month or two you need to use the infant insert with it, sold separately. I set this up in whatever room I’m in and sit her in it when I am busy, cooking dinner, etc.
Car Seat. See my post about choosing the right car seat.
Owlet. (Very Optional.) This is so cool and many mamas love it, but we found it unnecessary for us and only used it for one nap, ever. However, I include it to consider because if you have a preemie or any issues to keep a closer eye on it would be very useful though, so if you come across one used for a great price during pregnancy, maybe grab to have on-hand and then resell later if you don’t use? They cost about $300 retail. I bought one used for $100 and then resold it for $165. Win-win.
Pacifier. Optional, but lots of mamas use one for at least the first couple months. It definitely helps with soothing.
Pack-N-Play. We found it useful to have a Pack-N-Play with a changing table attachment downstairs to use for diaper changes instead of going up to her nursery each time. Plus she can play in it later when she can sit up. You could also use it for safe playtimes, and use it for a crib when you travel.
Stroller. We have a BOB jogging stroller. It is very highly reviewed. BOB and Britax are the same company so they snap together easily from car to stroller. Their jogging strollers work so well and push so great!
Shopping Cart Cover. These are made to put in a shopping cart seat (after they can sit up) to keep your baby from touching the cart which has who-knows-what on it.
Baby Toys Checklist
I love simple, old-fashioned toys that make the child play with the toy versus the toy playing at the child. Know what I mean? So we try to stay away from many flashing lights/electronics etc.
Toy possibilities are endless and will amass quickly, so you don’t need to start with very many, but make sure to include the essentials below.
Soft Cloth Books and “busy books.” I’m a fan of having lots more books than toys!