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Newborn essentials: your ultimate baby checklist

This baby-rearing lark can be an expensive business, so it pays to know what you should be spending your money on. We've harnessed the power of the Mumsnet hive mind (and our in-depth reviews by parent testers) to come up with the ultimate checklist of newborn essentials for your baby.

By Natasha Gregson | Last updated Jan 4, 2024

Mother with baby

It’s fair to say that babies need stuff – and a fair amount of it too. Whilst some may want to start preparing for their new arrival from day one after a positive pregnancy test, it can be hard to know where to start. Some of the lists of newborn essentials shared online can be pretty extensive – including everything from the best baby toys and best pushchairs to the best cribs and best baby bouncers – but often, the vast majority of the items shared are simply ‘nice to haves’ rather than things you really need.

Just as we do with our top buyers' guides, from the best pregnancy pillows to the best infant car seats, we've scoured the Mumsnet forums - home to largest online network of UK parents- to find the the newborn baby essentials they rank as exactly that: essential. The following items are the real must-have items for the first few months with your new baby, as well as optional extras that many Mumsnet users rate and recommended.

From baby clothes to health essentials, as well as products for feeding, travel and sleep, here are the newborn baby essentials that you really need to have on your list. And, if you're expecting more than one bundle of joy, be sure to check out our guide covering what to buy for twins according to Mumsnetters.

Baby health essentials

baby and baby thermometer

It’s helpful to have the right health essentials ready in preparation for your baby's eight-week vaccinations or if your little one happens to become unwell. Your health visitor might offer some recommendations, but a baby thermometer can be great for peace of mind, allowing you to quickly and easily identify if your baby has a fever without disturbing them.

Babies are often born with incredibly long nails, and as such, they need some occasional grooming with a good pair of baby nail clippers to prevent them from scratching their faces too.

  • Thermometer (stick thermometers are recommended for newborns)

  • Nail clippers or trimmers

  • Baby paracetamol (e.g Calpol Infant can be used from 2 months+)

  • Baby toothbrush (you won't need to use until their first tooth comes through - usually between five to seven months, but it's handy this stored away ready for use)

Read next: The best baby wipes, as tried and tested by parents.

What Mumsnet users say

“We have the Braun ThermoScan 7 Ear Thermometer with Age Precision - pricey but so worth it! Bought it when my daughter was born and am still using it now, always gives true readings (they match when I’ve taken her to the doctors or hospital).” (Recommended by Mumsnet user 1990sbaby)

“Some people prefer nail files or little scissors for baby nails, but I found baby nail clippers the easiest (and least scary) to use.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter EarlGreywithLemon)

“Calpol is very useful. If babies get too hot they can have a febrile seizure. The Calpol brings their temperature down which is why they recommended you give it after the MenB immunisation.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user iusedtoloveopalfruits1)

Read next: If your baby is struggling with a cold, choosing a good baby nasal aspirator can help to relieve their symptoms.

Baby toiletry essentials

Mum bathing baby in tub

Whilst you don’t need to purchase huge quantities, it’s important to have baby toiletry essentials ready for your baby’s arrival, helping keep them clean and comfortable through both day and night.

Newborn babies need changing around ten to twelve times a day, so having a supply of newborn nappies, along with reusable cloths or (ideally) plastic-free baby wipes is a great place to start. Whilst it’s nice to stock up, remember that babies progress through nappy sizes pretty quickly, so don’t be tempted to overbuy.

When it comes to keeping your baby clean, simple topping and tailing are sufficient at first, before incorporating a full bath time into your normal routine. It’s important to remember that initially, cleaning with water only is perfectly acceptable due to your baby’s sensitive skin. Dermatologically tested washes and the best baby shampoo can be added later if you wish to use them.

Many Mumsnet users also found a bath support made their lives much easier, minimising some of the anxieties around washing their baby.

  • Nappies

  • Baby wipes or reusable cloths

  • Nappy rash cream or barrier cream

  • Baby moisturiser (dermatologically tested for use with babies)

  • Baby body wash/shampoo (optional) - plus, while by no means necessary, the best bath toys can be a great distraction while you are washing them

  • Baby bath or bath support

  • Changing mat (optional but recommended)

  • Cuddle robe or hooded towel (optional but recommended)

What Mumsnet users say

“I wouldn't stock up on too many [nappies] of the same size/brand. Different babies do best with different nappies (due to how well they fit different body shapes and how heavy the baby wets / how explosive their poos are etc.). It’s also not unusual to swap brands as the baby grows.”  (Recommended by Mumsnet user careerchangeperhaps)

“I’d vote for the Shnuggle bath. Uses hardly any water and takes the whole “OMG SHE’S SO SLIPPERY!!!” panic out of washing a newborn.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter TerribleCustomerCervix)

Newborn clothes essentials

Best babygrows

Everyone loves shopping for adorable baby clothes, but it’s easy to go a little overboard.

Before you blow the budget on a wide range of super cute outfits and accessories, it’s important to remember that babies grow incredibly quickly.

During those newborn days, it’s important to focus on comfort and practicality, opting for easy-change cotton bodysuits, vests and babygrows that are gentle on sensitive skin. Start with a small selection (around eight of each works well) as you can easily add more once you know the weight and size of your baby. It’s also worth investing in a gentle detergent to ensure laundered clothes don’t irritate your baby’s sensitive skin.

  • Sleepsuits x 8

  • Bodysuits x 8

  • Vests x 8

  • Baby grows x 8 (ideally with integrated feet and mittens)

  • Outdoor hat/sun hat x 2 (a UV-protected sun hat for summer or a warm hat in winter)

  • Cardigans or jackets x 3 (to use as layers for warmth and remove as required)

  • 5-10 pairs of baby socks or booties

  • Baby mittens (optional)

  • Pramsuit (optional dependent on season)

What Mumsnet users say

“I would get maybe six of each in the first size just to get you started (George and Matalan do great multipacks), then eight of each in 0-3 months. This worked for us but every baby is different - you may need more if you wash less often than me or if your baby is particularly sickly.” (Endorsed by Mumsnet user 2021ComeAtMe)

“Don't go mad. You can always buy stuff when the baby arrives. Get stuff for the first month as they grow really quickly. The first sizes for newborns will be too small after a couple of weeks and some babies are born too big for newborn size.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter coffeefi)

“In winter you will need some cardigans or tops to add layers to keep them warm. Go for washable and quick-drying materials. About four should do and, hopefully, you’ll get some nice clothes bought as presents.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter 5MikesOut)

“Buy your onesies with scratch mitts built in - M&S and Next do them like this among others - they're just sleeves with a pocket you can turn over to cover the hands.”  (Advice from Mumsnet user FourPlasticRings)

Read next: Don’t miss our round-up of the best tummy time toys, including plenty of options for newborns

Baby sleep and nursery essentials

Time for bed: How to dress your baby for sleep

Experts recommend that you sleep in the same room as your baby for the first six months to reduce the risk of SIDs, so you’ll need to invest in a cot, crib or Moses basket that allows you to keep them close by in your bedroom at night. You'll also need to buy a mattress and fitted sheets separately (no need for any other bedding) to make sure the cot or crib is supportive and comfortable for your baby.

A Moses basket or carry cot can provide a more portable option for daytime naps, whilst a bedside crib can be a huge help for those relentless overnight feeds.

Whilst optional, a baby monitor can be great for peace of mind once your baby moves into their own room or nursery, allowing you to check on them remotely without disturbing the peace.

What Mumsnet users say

“The Next 2 Me cot was honestly the best thing I bought for my son - I would 100% recommend it. He loved being close to us, and we loved having him there and he always settled and slept really well. He's six-months-old now and we've only just finished using it.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user queensvillage1)

“My daughter slept in her Moses basket upstairs at night until we got a Next 2 Me and I’d bring it downstairs for her to sleep in during the day. Was easier to carry between up and downstairs.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Gin4thewin)

“I couldn’t live without a baby monitor! When we had our first child I was so glad I bought video as his bedroom door made a loud noise - I think I’d end up waking him by checking on him otherwise. It also gave me more confidence in putting him in his own room.” (Endorsed by Mumsnet user LetMeBakeCake)

Baby feeding essentials

Woman breastfeeding a baby

Whether breastfeeding, formula feeding or expressing milk for a combination of the two, feeding a newborn can be pretty exhausting. To make your life easier, it’s recommended you have a good supply of baby feeding essentials to get you started.

Babies bring up milk a lot in those early newborn days, so of all the feeding essentials, a steady supply of muslins for mopping up milk possets should be at the top of your list.

If you’re combination feeding, it may take a bit of time to find the perfect bottle for your baby, so don’t be afraid to try out a few brands before investing in a full set. Look out for helpful anti-colic features which can prevent your baby from taking on too much air as they feed.

  • Muslins/burp cloths x 10

  • Bottles and accessories such as bottle brushes (if bottle feeding) x 8

  • Formula (if bottle feeding)

  • Steriliser (if bottle feeding)

  • Nursing bras (if breastfeeding)

  • Breast pads (if breastfeeding)

  • Lanolin nipple cream (optional if breastfeeding)

  • Breast pump (optional if breastfeeding)

What Mumsnet users say

“I use muslins more than I use bibs! You can never have too many muslins!!” MrsW150917

“I used Lansinoh lanolin cream and couldn't have done without it. I really struggled to breastfeed and found it so hard for the first six weeks but the cream was a godsend. After six weeks it was like breaking through a barrier and it became a million times easier!" (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user vfoster)

“MAM bottles are the best. I think it's the shape of the teat which helps a baby to latch onto the bottle without gulping in too much air.” (Advice from Mumsnetter ChocolateCoffeeaddict)

Read next: Encourage your baby’s development early with our pick of the best sensory toys for babies, including plenty of picks newborns will love.

Baby travel essentials

woman pushing a pram

It’s crucial that you have suitable products to keep your baby safe and comfortable during travel. If you have a car, a high-quality group 0/0+ rearward-facing car seat is an absolute must, as you won't be able to leave the hospital without one.

You can then opt for a travel system (where the baby car seat can be attached directly to the pushchair) or a lightweight buggy which can be used from birth in the lie-flat position. Travel systems can also be used with a carrycot, which can be a helpful sleep solution for babies whilst you’re out and about.

If you do a lot of walking, a baby carrier or sling is a great alternative to a stroller, especially for getting things done around the house while keeping your little one close by.

  • Group 0/0+ rearward-facing car seat

  • Pushchair or travel system

  • Carrycot for travel system (optional)

  • Baby carrier/sling (optional)

  • Changing bag (optional)

What Mumsnet users say

“From my personal experience, having a car seat that fits onto the pushchair is a lifesaver! Baby so often falls asleep in the car and then is woken up by transferring to the pushchair and then you've got a crabby baby to contend with!” (Advice from Mumsnetter Mommabear20)

“It depends on your lifestyle but I used a baby carrier loads with my son when I lived near town and could walk to most of my friend's houses, park meet-ups etc. It was just easier than the pram a lot of the time.” (Recommendation by Mumsnet user BertieBotts)

Nice-to-have baby items

newborn baby in towel

Whilst the additional items below aren’t essential, they all come down to personal choice. Many Mumsnet users have rated and recommended these products as being helpful, valuable or useful products to use with their newborn, whether that's out and about or in the comfort of their own home, which is why several also made the list for the best baby gifts according to Mumsnetters.

  • Sunshade for car window

  • Blackout blinds for nursery

  • Changing unit/table

  • Nursing pillow

  • Room thermometer

  • Play mat or playpen

  • Bouncer

Read next: See our pick of the best toys for newborns, as recommended by parents

When should I start buying baby stuff?

The truth is, there is no ‘right time’ to buy baby stuff - some prefer to be organised and buy products well in advance, whilst others feel more comfortable waiting until their baby has arrived safely.

As a general rule, it’s good to start ticking off some of the essentials when you reach the second trimester, that way if your baby was to arrive early, you have at least the bare essentials to allow you to bring them home safely. Most babies arrive between 37 and 41 weeks of pregnancy, but during those later weeks, you may not have the energy to be traipsing around stores to test out car seats and pushchairs.

Here are some other things to consider when working through that baby essentials checklist:

  • Are you having a baby shower? - Friends and family love buying gifts for new babies, so before you go crazy buying yet another adorable baby grow, consider how many you’re likely to receive as gifts. It’s so common for parents to end up with loads of 0-3 baby grows that never get a chance to be worn. Consider creating a list of items so people can gift without duplication.

  • Do you know the gender of your baby? - Whilst there are plenty of unisex baby products, you may prefer to wait until you know your baby’s gender before purchasing items such as nursery decor and baby clothing.

  • How big is your baby going to be? - Your scans are only a prediction, so again, exert caution before committing to too many items in a small size. Your baby may be bigger (or smaller) than the estimate, so if you do buy, keep those tags on for a while in case you need to exchange them.

  • What’s your budget? - Buying everything you need for your baby at once can be expensive, so spreading out the purchases throughout your pregnancy can help manage the financial impact.

  • Look out for the sales - When buying bigger ticket items such as car seats, pushchairs or cribs, consider the timing of your purchases. Look out for January sales, Black Friday deals or clearance lines, as you can easily save a big discount on the RRP.

About the author

Natasha Gregson is an Affiliate Content Editor at Mumsnet, with a focus on product reviews and round-ups.

After a three-year stint on Gransnet's editorial team, Natasha joined Mumsnet in 2021, and has since carved out a specialism in all things home, lifestyle and baby. Her work has also featured in national publications including The i Paper and Stylist Magazine.