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Most parents' new baby checklists include necessities as well as a few purchases that are over-the-top optional. Your baby really needs only enough clothing to keep him or her clean and warm, a comfortable environment, proper nutrition and plenty of love. Here's a look at the items you may want that are just the start of the cost of raising a child.
But chances are you want more than the bare minimum for your little one, so these lists err on the comprehensive side.
Nerd tip: Friends and family are often more than willing to spoil your bundle of joy. Even if a baby shower isn’t in the works, directing loved ones to a registry can make a big dent in your shopping list — and lessen the chance that you’ll receive unnecessary items.
Baby checklists: Pregnancy through homecoming
Baby checklist for pregnancy
The shopping began the moment you bought a pregnancy test. Now is the time to complete these financial tasks to prepare for a baby and purchase items crucial for parents-to-be.
Bras with added support
Maternity clothes and waistband extenders
Body cream to soothe stretching skin and dryness commonly caused by pregnancy hormones
Belly support band
Additional pillow(s) for support
Pregnancy books: You can’t go wrong with the classic “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Budget tip: It's easy to find pregnancy and infant supplies secondhand, often used for only a handful of months. Check local exchange boards on social media, Craigslist and even yard sales.
Baby checklist for the hospital
Many of the items in the hospital bag will already be part of your layette — a fancy word for baby’s wardrobe — but you might have some purchases to make specifically for the time in labor and delivery.
Warm, nonskid socks or slippers for walking the halls
Maternity bra and a few nursing pads
For the baby
At least one outfit for the trip home: Pack a few different sizes in case junior is swimming in the 0-to-3-month gear or filling out newborn-size onesies.
A few warm blankets: You can skip these if it’s summer or you live in Miami.
Outdoor gear (if needed)
Diaper bag, including a few diapers, wipes and a pacifier
Nerd tip: Be conservative in buying clothing for your little one. Many babies wear “newborn” sizes only for the first few weeks, if at all. As your baby grows, you’ll know better which sizes you’ll need and when.
Baby checklist for the nursery & home
If budget isn’t a concern for your nursery, furnishings such as low-allergen wood or cork flooring, soothing paint colors and custom furniture are nice options. For the majority of expectant parents, however, there’s a happy medium between building your baby a dream palace and ensuring she has a safe and comfortable room. Essential buys:
Crib, cradle or bassinet: Bassinets may be safe only for the first few months.
Portable bed or playpen
Moisture-proof mattress pads (1-3)
Fitted sheets (2-4)
Light receiving blankets (3+)
Heavier blankets (2)
Changing table and/or changing pad
Nightlight or lamp for checking on baby without waking him
Stroller (see: best strollers)
Laundry detergent for babies or those with sensitive skin
Nasal aspirator, less prettily called a “snot sucker”
Infant pain reliever/fever reducer, such as Tylenol
Baby checklist for breast- vs. bottle-feeding
Breast-feeding moms might also want bottle supplies for times when they can't feed their babies personally.
Nerd tip: Manufacturers’ websites often offer free samples of diapers, formula and other baby care products, as well as valuable coupons.
Baby checklists: 0-12 months
Baby checklist for 0 to 3 months old
This is the biggest list, because you’re buying items that will last well into baby’s first year. And you won’t want to run out on emergency shopping trips after bringing baby home from the hospital.
Aim to have the 0-to-3-month items purchased at least a month before the due date. If you’re considering any delivery services, such as Amazon Mom for diaper and formula deliveries, now’s the time to set them up, too.
Hooded towels (2+)
Soft baby washcloths (4)
Baby wash or gentle soap for sensitive skin
Children’s nail clippers: Your own will be too big.
Soft newborn hairbrush
Two packages disposable newborn diapers or 24+ cloth
Diaper covers and fasteners, if you’re using cloth diapers
Diaper rash ointment and powder
Newborn pacifiers (2+, because they will get lost)
Several shirt and pants sets
Socks or booties (6+ pairs)
Sweater or jacket
Bunting (infant sleeping bag) or snowsuit, depending on the season and your location
Infant rocker, bouncing chair or age-appropriate swing
Toys: At this age, baby can’t use his hands for grabbing, but high-contrast colors and patterns get his attention. Visual stimulation, such as a mobile above his crib, and soft music are best.
Budget tip: If you purchase a stroller, crib or high chair secondhand, make sure it's safe. Examine all buckles, harnesses and moving parts, and perform a quick search on the Consumer Product Safety Commission's website to see if the product was involved in a recall.
We don’t recommend buying a used car seat because of the possibility that its safety has been compromised as the result of a car crash, but local law enforcement agencies often inspect them for free, so take advantage of this option if you must buy used.
Baby checklist for 4 to 6 months old
Much of what you’ve already bought will suffice as your baby grows. For instance, you won’t have to replace her blankets every few months. But some of her needs will change as she grows into new clothes, cuts her first teeth, begins grabbing objects and starts putting everything into her mouth.
Spoons and bowls for soft solids, such as cereal
Stationary activity center for babies 4 months and older
Toys: Tactile stimulation is important at this age, and every touch brings about new sensations. Try toys with different textures, shapes and colors. Rattles are also good at this stage, as baby may begin to associate an action, such as shaking a toy, with instant sound feedback.
Baby checklist for 7 to 12 months old
Your baby is far more interactive now, and might soon be crawling. If you haven’t already, baby-proof the house and provide toys and activities that will nurture her exploratory nature.
Latches for kitchen and bathroom cupboards
Gates to block stairways and rooms that are off-limits
Plastic guards and/or cushions for furniture corners
Small containers for finger-food snacks, as baby begins to feed himself
Toys: Board books and busy boards engage her hand-eye coordination. Soft dolls, wooden blocks and squishy balls are also fun. When all else fails, your little mover will love playing with empty cups and containers from the kitchen.