12 main essential items for a newborn you’ll need and love

Main essentials for a newborn
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

If you have a baby on the way, you’ll be working out the main essential items for a newborn you’ll need first. A new baby needs A LOT and we could go on forever, but here let’s focus on the crucial items you’ll want to start thinking about and buy in advance.

Now let’s get real, some of this stuff is pricey! But also essential. If anyone is offering to help or even contribute a little, accept that kind offer!

You can start a baby wish list or let friends and family know what you need help with. If you’re having a baby shower, that’s another opportunity.

If you need to save money, look at second-hand options or talk to friends in case they have anything to pass on. Some things you must buy new for safety such as the car seat or mattress, but many things can be brought second-hand. And take care of your baby items so you can also pass them on later.

Here are the main essential items for a newborn to add to your shopping list…

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1. Cot/Moses basket

OK, first on your newborn shopping list is a place for the baby to sleep. I can’t say my baby was keen to sleep on anything but a human those first few weeks but it was bliss when that changed.

Some parents like to have a cot in their bedroom at night, and a Moses basket by day in the lounge or wherever they are.

Kidly has some lovely options for baby beds. I used a bedside sleep-by-me crib that you can have right next to you which makes things easier for those night wakings.

Kidly also has a great selection of Moses baskets and other cute accessories like sleeping bags which I prefer to blankets for newborns.

Mamas & Papas also has a great selection of cot beds, bedding and accessories from a number of leading brands. They are a good starting point for your main essential items for a newborn.

2. Pram or buggy

This is the biggie. It’s the most expensive purchase for most of us but you will get a lot of wear out of it. You could buy a traditional pram and change to a buggy/stroller later or go for the full adaptable travel system early and convert when the baby is six months and can sit up. 

I have spoken before about how much I love my Babyzen YOYO stroller and I converted it from a heavy pram at six months but if you want to get it for a new baby, you’ll need the Newborn Kit too. They come in lots of colours and the parts are washable!

Check out your local retailers first, as it’s nice to have a test drive and see if it feels good and has the space you need for your stuff, nappy changing bits etc. You can ask mums with prams/strollers you like in the street how they find theirs. I got stopped a few times about mine!

Babyzen yogo stroller/pram - main essential items for a newborn
The Babyzen Yoyo stroller/pram – top of my main essential items for a newborn

3. Baby bath

I used the Nuby non-slip baby bath. It still seemed huge for a tiny newborn but I liked the non-slip feature. Follow full instructions for safety with any baby bath or anything on this list.

If you are a first-time mum like me, make sure you’ve read up all you can in advance as it was all new to me and you want to be safe. There are some great manuals (!) such as What to expect the 1st year. See my post on the best new mum books too.

4. Car seat

In the UK, all babies (and young children) must travel in a car seat, regardless of journey time. So even if it’s only for the trip home from the hospital, you will need to have a size 0 car seat. Check the local rules in your country or state.

You shouldn’t use a second-hand one either, in case it was in an accident and damaged (perhaps not obviously). It’s good to have one for emergencies even if you don’t have a car anyway.

You may get one with your pram/travel system or you can buy one separately such as the Maxi-Cosi car seat.

5. Sling

We are still on the sleep and transport theme and now onto slings. This was not on my main essentials for a newborn list initially, but a couple of mum friends told me how invaluable they are and I converted quickly!

If you are home alone with the newborn most of the time (for any number of reasons) you will soon find out how near impossible it is to get anything done with a baby that wants to be in constant contact with you.

The sling is a game changer! You can tidy up, make yourself food and drink, answer the door and more, all while the baby is attached to you and often sleeping happily. You are hands-free!

I love a stretchy Ergobaby sling as they are super comfy and also easy to pack and travel with.

However, some people prefer a structured one where you can change the baby’s direction to outward facing when they are older. Check out the Ergobaby Omni 360 Carrier from Mamas & Papas.

6. Changing mat

If you have room, get yourself a nifty changing table, it will be kinder to your back. But if you don’t have much space like me, then you can just use your nappy changing mat over a dresser, in the middle of your bed (never left unattended) or on the floor.

Make sure you choose a cute design for your changing mat as you will be using and looking at it A LOT. I went for a nice cushioned one too as again, you will be getting a lot of use out of it. Mamas & Papas has a lovely selection too.

7. Muslin cloths

All mums will rave about muslin square cloths. They can be used for a multitude of situations: to wipe up any mess, as a burp cloth on your shoulder, to swaddle baby and so on. Some babies like them as a comforter.

They come in all colours but you can also go neutral and get a pack of plain white cloths. They take a lot of usage, washing and dry quickly. I like to use them myself with cleanser to take off make-up!

8. All-in-one baby grows/onesies

I’m sure you already know you will need quite a few baby grows or onesies but bear in mind that babies grow quickly so you might not want to stock up too much. You can get personalised baby onesies on Etsy.

You can get a lot of other personalised cute baby things on Etsy (toys, shoes etc.) that might not last baby long but you can keep them in a memory box for years to come.

9. Breast pump

If you are breast-feeding, you’ll likely need a breast pump so you get a break/sleep while dad or someone else feeds the baby. And when baby starts sleeping longer (blissful) chunks you may still wake up sore as your boobs are still bursting, ready to feed.

Pumping means you can alleviate discomfort, avoid blocked ducts and have some milk for later. If you want to compare different types and brands then visit Mamas & Papas and see what you might prefer.

I used the well-known Medala breast pump. Some mum friends preferred the manual version but I was going for minimal effort during those exhausting early months. They also have a double-version which I only spotted later!

It is an expensive purchase but I was able to sell on later as you can buy new parts like the bottle and shields for hygiene reasons.

Again, check in with friends in case they no longer need theirs. Some mums find they don’t get on with them so you could land yourself a bargain or freebie.

10. Nappies and wipes

This is an obvious one! Disposable nappies and wet wipes are easily stocked up on in your weekly shop but if you are considering re-useable nappies and accessories then there are some really cute options with beautiful designs.

I must admit I found all the washing of re-useable nappies quite the effort so didn’t last long with them but I did love re-useable wipes such as those from Cheeky Wipes. I had colourful ones for nappy use and white ones for the face which I still use on my daughter after meals.

This is another thing I use myself for taking off make-up and face washing!

11. Baby monitor

I love my baby monitor and still use it now and my girl is a toddler. Even though I’m in a tiny flat and always next door to my little one, it’s nice to have it on and have that reassurance.

Once she started sleeping earlier (and better) and I got my evenings back, I could have some time and space to myself while still keeping an eye on her. For more on sleep, read alternative baby bedtime routine.

They have amazing features like night vision, two-way talk and the approximate room temperature. Check out a wide selection of baby monitors here.

12. Thermometer

This will give you peace of mind or help you assess whether your baby has a fever and needs medical treatment. Braun is an excellent brand and we use the one you use close (but not touching) the forehead but some prefer the one that goes in the ear.

This is one of the main essential items for a newborn you don’t want to be without if it’s your first baby. I still use mine regularly to keep an eye on my daughter when she feels a little warmer than normal.

There’s your shopping list of main essential items for a newborn

So now you have your list of main essential items for a newborn and can start shopping or begging your loved ones to help you get these things in advance! Remember,

  • You can also start a baby wishlist of your main essential items for a newborn
  • Some of these can be brought second-hand or check family and friends for hand-me-downs where appropriate
  • You could even pop around to a mum friend’s house to try some of their essentials out to see if you want the same or a different style
  • In the UK, you can often find ‘sling libraries’ that let you try out different style of slings once your baby has arrived to see which you prefer. Some are stretchy and others are more structured. Since they aren’t cheap, it’s wise to try before you buy.

Are most of these main essential items for a newborn on your shopping list? What else do you think is a must-have?

For more posts on becoming a new mum, read baby’s first holiday abroad and if you’re newly pregnant, read handle work when pregnant during the first trimester.

Please save or share the pin below for other mums-to-be to prep for the main essential items for a newborn they will need too!

Main essential items for a newborn

The information provided is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. This site is not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information.


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