Gotta Have It

Essential items to have on hand when you bring baby home.


You may think you’re all set with everything you’ll need when you arrive home with your new baby, from perfectly coordinated tiny togs to crates of diapers. But take it from me, there’s always something you’ll need, and it might not be on the shelves of your corner convenience store.

In order to save you at least some of those late-night trips (try wandering the aisles of a 24-hour grocery store in search of nipple cream), here’s a list of items — for you and the baby — to buy in the weeks before your due date.

Cloth diapers Even if you’re planning to use disposables, cotton diapers will come in handy to use as a drool guard, burp cloth or changing-table pad — plus they’re easy to tuck inside a bra for a quick makeshift nursing pad, if need be.

Sanitary napkins Not having had a period for 10 or so months, one new mom discovered that she needed lots of pads for postpartum vaginal discharge and bleeding. (Tampons aren’t advised during this time because of risk of infection.)

Tiny nail clippers Sounds scary, but you will have to trim those itty-bitty fingernails to keep baby from scratching himself.

Bouncy seat Once you realize you can’t hold the adorable bundle 24/7, you’ll need a safe place to put her while she’s awake. These softly bouncing seats are perfect for giving baby a good vantage point while you cook, clean or take a shower. (Some models hum and vibrate, but the ones that bounce by baby’s gentle kicking actions are less expensive and the least complicated.)

Kitchen timer Breastfeeding can be challenging enough without wondering if you’ve given baby equal time on each breast, especially if you tend to doze while nursing. Set a small kitchen timer for 15 minutes so you’ll know when it’s time to switch sides.

Sack-type baby gowns I found these indispensable, since getting a newborn’s pants and socks on and off during a messy diaper change can be frustrating. With these you simply unsnap (or unzip) the bag bottom and baby’s legs are free. The fleece styles are especially cozy for wintertime.

Car sunshade Your newborn will, of course, need to be secured in a rear-facing infant car seat for car travel (including the first trip home from the hospital). You’ll want to protect her delicate eyes and skin from the sun’s glare by attaching this handy shield to your car window.

Neck support Speaking of the car, even the most well-made infant car seat may not offer firm-enough support for a new baby’s wobbly neck muscles. A terry-cloth-covered U-shaped headrest can be placed into any model car seat to help keep baby’s head safely in place while offering her more comfort.

Extra nursing gowns One word: leakage. You’ll find yourself changing nursing gowns much more frequently than you ever imagined, and it’s a good idea to have extras on hand.