In the weeks before your due date, you’ll want to gather the necessities, such as bodysuits and diapers. Pack an organic cotton bodysuit or sleep sack in your hospital bag for baby’s going-home outfit; they’re cozy and allow you easy access for diaper changes. Stock up on newborn-sized diapers; your baby will use eight to 12 of them a day. You’ll also want at least one nursing bra, plus breast pads to keep from soaking your shirts, and a breastfeeding pillow if you plan on nursing. Bottles are another must-have, whether you’re breastfeeding or giving formula.
Extra essentials: 0-3 months
During the first few months, burp cloths will play a vital role in your daily life; you can use them for feedings, wiping up spills and even as an impromptu diapering surface. Pacifiers can satisfy your baby’s sucking instinct between feedings, if you choose to use them; and a swing or bouncer seat provides a secure place for resting and the rhythmic movement babies love. And, be sure to stock the medicine cabinet with a pain reliever and fever reducer, such as infant acetaminophen (check with your doctor for proper dosing).
Extra essentials: 4-12 months
Now is the time to gather baby-proofing tools, such as cabinet locks, outlet covers and gates. Your baby will be rolling over, then crawling, before you know it and you want to be ready. It’s also teething time, so be prepared with freezable teethers and homeopathic teething tablets or liquid for pain. (Be sure to check with your pediatrician.) Bibs will come in handy as you expose your baby to new foods—which will likely end up all over her face and clothes, too. Finally, when crawlers turn into walkers, soft, flexible baby shoes will protect her feet without disturbing her gait.
Our list of basics will see you through from first day home to first steps.