This checklist for a newborn baby includes all the essential items you’ll need, as well as a list of the finance and work-related things you need to sort out before your baby is born.
Need. Need. Need. Got. Need.
No. I’m not one of those adults who collects football stickers in an effort to re-live their childhood.
Instead, I’m working through what feels like a never-ending checklist of items we have to buy for our newborn baby.
I’m one of the last of my group of friends to have a child. So I should know what I’m doing. Thing is, I didn’t pay any attention when they told me how they were preparing for their newborn.
Sure, I heard phrases like “travel system” and “breast pads” from time to time. But as far as I knew, a travel system was their routine for leaving the house before a long journey and breast pads are Apple’s latest overhyped and overpriced invention.
Now I’m terrified – not of the prospect of being responsible for a human being for 18 years but of all the shopping we have to do before the baby’s due.
There’s lots of other stuff to sort out too, like applying for child benefit, sorting paternity leave before it’s too late and getting our finances in line.
So I’m dealing with this how I would any complicated project – by writing a massive checklist for a newborn baby.
It includes essential clothing as well as items, equipment and accessories required for travel, feeding and sleep.
There’s also a list of what you need to sort out when it comes to money, work and registering the birth. Oh, and a small list of stuff I won’t need to buy yet.
If you’re as clueless as me about newborn baby stuff, I’ve also included a description of each item on the checklist.
Do you think there’s anything essential missing? Leave a comment below, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me.
A clueless dad-to-be’s checklist for a newborn baby
- For the birth
- Travel equipment and accessories
- Rest and sleeping
- Bathing, grooming and health
- Clothing and textiles
- Money, work and admin
- What you won’t need yet
- What you’ll probably never need
For the birth
Non-perishable food and drink
Have some snacks and drinks (energy drinks and water) ready to take to the hospital – you’ll get ripped off on the hospital parking so you might as well save some cash on food and drink.
Eye mask and ear plugs (optional)
These will help your partner get some sleep on a busy maternity ward.
After giving birth, your partner will probably bleed for several weeks. Maternity pads are like extra absorbent sanitary towels, which she can use to stop any leaks until the bleeding stops.
Travel equipment and accessories
Rear-facing car seat (standalone or part of a travel system)
Apart from the obvious fact that a newborn baby isn’t simply going to jump in the passenger side of the car, strap herself in, stick Radio 1 on and say “take me home, drive” it’s law that children need to use a car seat until they’re 135cm tall or 12 years old.
So if you want to take your baby in the car, you’ll need to get a car seat or buy a travel system (see below) that includes a car seat. And no, you can’t simply plonk the baby on your lap instead – it’s against the law in your own vehicle and isn’t safe for the little one.
The United Nations (yes, really) categorise car seats into several groups by the child’s weight. You’ll need a “0+” car seat, which are for babies who weigh up to 13kg (29lb) – most babies reach this weight around 15 months.
When you come to buy a car seat, you’ll likely hear about a new regulation called “i-Size”. There aren’t many i-Size seats on the market yet and they’re not necessarily safer than seats that meet the “old” safety standards.
Your baby must be in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 15 months old.
Pram with rain cover and sun shade
Newborn babies can’t sit up on their own and need to lie on their back. So you’ll need one of the following initially:
- a pram
- a pushchair with a setting that lets them lie down (a two-in-one)
- a pushchair and carrycot combination (a three-in-one)
If you get a pram, you’ll need to replace it with a pushchair after about six months. So you may find it easier to get a two-in-one pushchair or three-in-one system.
Whatever you decide on, remember to get a rain cover and a sun shade – manufacturers don’t always supply these as standard, the swines.
Make sure you choose a sun shade that offers good UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). And don’t use a makeshift shade like a towel or muslin square instead – these can make the inside of the pram too hot.
Travel system (optional)
A travel system replaces the need for a separate pram and car seat because it usually consists of a three-in-one pushchair with a detachable car seat. The aim being that you can seamlessly move your baby from car the pram and vice versa.
Some travel systems come as a package while others lets you pick and choose between components, usually from the same manufacturer.
Sun shades for car
You’ll need some sun shades for your car to protect your baby from the sun.
You can either use sun shades that stick or clip onto the windows or ones that fit onto a car seat.
As with a pram shade, choose shades that offer good UPF.
Car rear-view mirror
When your baby is in a rear-facing car seat, child-view mirrors allow you to see them to check they’re comfortable.
They fit on the headrest in front of your baby so you can see them in the main rear-view mirror without turning around.
Sling or baby carrier (optional)
You can use a baby carrier or sling to carry your baby around with you while keeping your hands free. They’re useful at home and on the move and are a good alternative to using a pram when you’re out and about.
Slings (also called wraps) are swatches of material that wrap around you and your baby. Baby carriers are sturdier than slings and offer you and your baby a bit more support.
Nursing bras (optional)
A nursing bra lets your partner breastfeed without taking it off.
Breast pads (optional)
Your partner can wear breast pads inside her bra to absorb any leaking breast milk.
You can get reusable and disposable versions.
Muslin is the Swiss army knife of the baby world. It’s a lightweight, breathable, durable cotton fabric and can withstand many washes.
Some muslin uses include:
- Mopping up dribble, sick and wee
- Protecting your own clothes from dribble and sick
- Using as a bib when feeding
- Covering up when breastfeeding
- Keeping milk leakage under control
Whether you need bibs for your newborn baby or not will depend on how well your baby gets on with feeding and whether you want to shell out on them.
Some babies have no problems with feeding and won’t make a mess. Others may dribble a lot or have a habit of bringing up some of the milk.
If your baby makes a mess, bibs will prevent you having to change their outfit several times a day.
That said, muslin square can do the same job as a bib. So this is probably something you can skimp on.
Cover up – for breastfeeding (optional)
If your partner will be breastfeeding in public or you’ve got friends or family popping round a lot, she might feel more comfortable using a cover up (also known as a nursing shawl).
These are several types available, including ones that double up as scarves.
Nipple cream (optional)
This can help your partner if she experiences cracked nipples because of breastfeeding.
Breast pump (optional)
Your partner can use a breast pump to express (remove) milk from her breasts so you can store it and feed it to your baby later.
Expressing milk between feeds can also improve milk supply, ease sore nipples and ease breast engorgement (when breasts become too full).
Bottles and teats (optional)
If you’re going to breastfeed your baby, you won’t want to introduce a bottle until they’ve got the hang of breastfeeding.
If you’re not breastfeeding your baby, you’ll need bottles and teats from the get go.
If you’re bottle feeding your baby, you’ll need 2-6 bottles and teats. However, the more you have the more you can prepare in advance.
Bottle and teat brushes (optional)
You need bottle and teat brushes to clean bottles and teats before you sterilise them.
If you bottle feed your baby, you must sterilise all feeding equipment until your baby is one year old.
You can sterilise equipment with an electric or microwave steam steriliser or with a cold water sterilising solution.
Boiling equipment for 10 minutes is also an effective way to sterilise feeding equipment if you don’t have sterilising solution or equipment.
Infant formula (optional)
If your baby isn’t breastfeeding, best not forget to buy this or they’ll have nothing to eat!
Rest and sleeping
Moses basket, crib or cot (including new mattress)
Your baby will need somewhere to sleep! And while there’s no reason they can’t use a cot as their main bed if it fits in your bedroom, you may find it easier to use a moses basket or carry cot until they’re a few months old so you can transport them round the house without disturbing them.
It’s fine to use a second-hand moses basket, crib or cot. But it’s best to buy a new mattress. This is because research has found there’s an increased risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome also known as Cot Death) when babies sleep on a mattress another child has used previously.
Choose a firm, waterproof mattress that fits the cot, crib or moses basket with no gaps around the edges.
You’ll need to cover the crib, cot or moses basket mattress with a sheet or two. You can also use sheets to cover your baby – use them with a blanket (see below) when it’s cold.
You can buy fitted sheets for most baby mattresses. But any sheet is fine as long as you can tuck it in tightly around the mattress.
Remember to have enough sheets available between washes.
Blankets are handy when it’s too cool for sheets on their own. You can use one to wrap them in when you’re travelling.
Make sure you tuck blankets in tightly, below their shoulders so there’s no chance they can suffocate.
Sleeping bag/bunting bag (optional)
Rather than sheets to keep your baby warm, they can wear a sleeping bag.
Don’t use blankets with wearable sleeping bags – give them extra layers of clothing instead.
Baby monitor (optional)
You can use a baby monitor to listen to or see your baby when you’re in a different room.
The Department of Heath recommends your baby sleep in the same room as you for the first six months. So you won’t need a baby monitor for a newborn unless you decide to let them sleep alone for short periods, for example when you shower.
Bathing, grooming and health
Obviously, you’ll need nappies for your little one. Unless you’re planning on doing early potty training (yes, this is a “thing”).
You’ll choose what nappies you need by your baby’s weight. So it’s best not to stockpile too many before they’re born in case they put on weight quickly or they arrive as a bit of a chubster.
You’ll also want to experiment with different brands to see which ones work best for you in terms of performance and price.
A nappy bin (optional)
Many people recommend putting smelly nappies in nappy sacks. However, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know that putting poo in a bag doesn’t do anything to mask the smell.
A better option is to use a bin with a lid for dirty nappies. Then, empty it regularly into your outside bin.
Baby bath or bowl
Your newborn will be tiny enough to bathe in a baby bath or even just a washing up bowl initially.
Simple water is fine for the first few weeks. So don’t be tempted to lather up with the 2-in-1 shampoo and shower gel you got for Christmas.
Cotton wool pads
Use cotton wool instead of a sponge or flannel when you wash your baby – it’s kinder on their skin.
Baby towels (optional)
Regular towels are OK for babies. But baby towels – many with cute hoods – are available to buy.
Hair brush (optional)
If your baby is born with hair, brushing it gently with a soft brush or comb keeps it smooth.
Brushing your baby’s head softly can also help relax them. So you might find it useful to buy a hair brush even if they don’t have much hair yet.
Changing mat (optional)
While you can change your baby on a towel or some muslin, a changing mat is probably more convenient because they’re easier to clean.
Nail scissors or nail clippers
You’ll need to cut your baby’s nails to stop them scratching themselves. You can use an emery board if using clippers or scissors on little fingers worries you.
Digital thermometer (optional)
You might want to get a digital thermometer if at some point you need to check if your baby has a fever.
Baby wipes (optional)
Cotton wool and water is best to use to clean up your baby. But a 2012 study found that extra-senstive baby wipes are OK too. So you may want some baby wipes to use on the go.
Clothing and textiles
These are pretty much vests, which fasten under your baby’s bum. They come with long and short sleeves.
You can use bodysuits under sleepsuits and onesies or as a t-shirt with trousers or leggings.
4-6 stretch suits/onesies
Stretch suits are like those onesies that everyone bought then hardly wore a few years ago.
They’re designed for sleeping in, so are ideal for a newborn baby who will be napping throughout the day.
They cover your baby’s arms, legs, hands and feet.
These are the same as stretch suits, but your baby’s hands and feet aren’t covered. This makes them better for during the day when your baby isn’t napping for long periods.
2 x pairs of scratch mitts (optional)
Some babies have a tendency to scratch themselves before they know how to use their hands properly.
Keeping their nails short helps prevent this. But you may find it easier to use scratch mitts to stop them hurting themselves (they don’t know any better yet, bless ’em).
2-3 pairs of socks (optional)
Socks and booties are handy to use with rompersuits, trousers or leggings to keep your baby’s feet warm.
A couple of light wool or cotton cardis will keep baby warm.
Cardigans are a better option than jumpers or sweaters as they’re easier to get on and off.
A pramsuit or snowsuit
When it’s chilly, your baby will need a pramsuit or snowsuit to stay warm outside.
Mittens and hat (optional)
If you’re having an autumn or winter baby, make sure they have some mittens and a warm hat.
Sun hat (optional)
Try to keep your baby out of the sun initially. But of you’re worried about them getting sun on their face and neck, they can wear a wide-brimmed sun hat.
Food thermometer (optional)
The marketing people will say you need separate thermometers to measure the temperature of your baby’s bath water, bedroom and formula milk.
A simple food thermometer (one you stick into meat to check it’s cooked) will do. And, you know, you can also use it when cooking.
Smoke/carbon monoxide detector
If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector and a smoke alarm yet, now’s the time to get one.
Hand sanitiser (optional)
Hand sanitiser is handy if you’re changing nappies when you’re out and about.
Money, work and admin
Request paternity leave
If you’re eligible and you want to take paternity leave, you’ll need to let your employer know at least 15 weeks before your due date.
If you want to take shared parental leave (SPL) after your baby is born, you must give your employer eight weeks’ notice.
Apply for child benefit
Either you or your partner can claim child benefit for every child that lives with you.
Make sure you apply for child benefit as soon as your baby is born – it can be backdated to three months but it can take almost as long to process your application.
Although you won’t need it straight away, you’ll need to send a copy of your child’s birth certificate to get child benefit. So make sure you…
Register the birth
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you must register the birth within 42 days. In Scotland, you must do this within 21 days.
Get life insurance (optional)
You might not want to think about life insurance, but would your partner be able to support your baby if you died?
Apply for child tax credits (optional)
Child tax credits can help you with the costs of raising your baby. Whether you’re eligible or not depends on your income and how many children you have.
You can check eligibility and apply on the Gov.uk website. https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-credits
Make a will (optional)
In most cases, your children are entitled to your estate if you don’t have a will when you die.
However, it’s usually better for them if you do have a will in place.
What you won’t need yet
Baby soap and baby shampoo
Simple water is best for your baby in the first month or so.
Newborn babies get dry skin but their skin is usually too sensitive for lotions. Wait until they’re older.
You won’t need things like a baby support and non-slip bath matt until they’re a little older. Use a bowl or baby bath instead initially.
Cream for nappy rash
Newborn babies don’t usually get nappy rash. If they do, try preventative measures before you use a cream.
What you’ll probably never need
Use a nappy bin instead.
Your newborn doesn’t really need a pair of Converse or Nike Airs yet, do they?
Over to you
Do you have a checklist for your newborn baby? What items did you find most useful?